Lithuania's Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that Russian journalist Andrey Nekrasov, who has been detained in Cyprus under a Moscow-issued arrest warrant and should soon be handed over to Lithuania, is eligible for asylum in this country, adding that the decision will be made by the Migration Department.
Andrei Nekrasov. Photo freenekrasov.org

"I will not talk about the specific situation but I can say in general that all persons who are persecuted for their political actions, criticism of regimes are eligible for asylum, if the conditions and our legal requirements are met. I can say today that the conditions are in existence, with the decision to be made by the Migration Department," the minister told journalists at the government on Monday.

He refused to elaborate whether Lithuania had received a request from Russian institutions to hand over the journalist to Russia and whether such request would be processed.

Under the Interpol warrant, Nekrasov was detained in Cyprus by the police in an airport last month. Shortly after the detention, he applied for political asylum. Cyprus followed the provision in the European Union (EU) law, which stipulates that the asylum application should be processed by the EU nation which the applicant entered first.

"Based on the provisions of the Dublin Regulation and the European acquis communitaire, the (Cypriot) interior minister has decided that Mr. (Andrey) Nekrasov should be returned to Lithuania, through which he had entered the EU. His return procedure has already been launched on the instruction of the minister of interior," the Cypriot Interior Ministry said in a press release last week.

Nekrasov's lawyers and NGOs say Nekrasov is persecuted for exposing corruption in the Russian Republic of Udmurtia.

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