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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Rock band essential of Putin is detained in Thailand, terrified of deportation to Russia

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BANGKOK — Members of a rock band that has been essential of Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine remained locked up Tuesday in a Thai immigration jail, fearful that they may very well be deported to Russia as a reported plan to allow them to fly to security in Israel was apparently suspended.

The progressive rock band Bi-2 mentioned on Fb that it had data that intervention from Russian diplomats precipitated the plan to be scuttled, although tickets had already been bought for his or her flight.

“The group individuals stay detained on the immigration heart in a shared cell with 80 folks,” the publish mentioned. It mentioned they declined to fulfill with the Russian consul. The Russian press company RIA Novosti mentioned the refusal was confirmed by Ilya Ilyin, head of the Russian Embassy’s consular part.

The seven band members had been arrested final Thursday after taking part in a live performance on the southern resort island of Phuket, reportedly for not having correct working papers. On Fb, they mentioned all their live shows “are held in accordance with native legal guidelines and practices.” Phuket is a well-liked vacation spot for Russian expats and vacationers. After paying a high-quality, the band members had been despatched to the Immigration Detention Heart in Bangkok.

The detained musicians “embrace Russia residents in addition to twin nationals of Russia and different international locations, together with Israel and Australia,” the group Human Rights Watch mentioned in an announcement Tuesday. These holding solely Russian citizenship are regarded as most in danger.

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“The Thai authorities ought to instantly launch the detained members of Bi-2 and permit them to go on their method,” mentioned Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Certainly not ought to they be deported to Russia, the place they may face arrest or worse for his or her outspoken criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.”

“It’s not identified if the Russian authorities have sought the band members’ forcible return to Russia,” Human Rights Watch mentioned. “Nevertheless, amid repression in Russia reaching new heights, Russian authorities have used transnational repression — abuses dedicated towards nationals past a authorities’s jurisdiction — to focus on activists and authorities critics overseas with violence and different illegal actions.”

Self-exiled Russian opposition politician and a buddy of Bi-2, Dmitry Gudkov, informed the AP that he had been in contact with attorneys and diplomats in an try and safe the band’s launch and recommended that strain to detain and deport them got here instantly from the Kremlin and the Russian Overseas Ministry.

Russia, Gudkov mentioned, wants an “evocative story to indicate that they are going to catch any critic overseas. That is all occurring within the run-up to (Russia’s presidential election), and it’s clear that they wish to shut everybody up, and that’s why there’s intense strain happening.”

There have been no public statements from Thai officers on the state of affairs.

Bi-2 has 1.01 million subscribers to its YouTube channel and 376.000 month-to-month listeners on Spotify.

Andrei Lugovoi, a member of the decrease home of Russia’s parliament, known as the band members “scum” for his or her criticism of Russia’s navy operations in Ukraine.

“Let the fellows prepare: quickly they are going to be taking part in and singing on spoons and on steel plates, faucet dancing in entrance of their cellmates,” Lugovoi mentioned on the Telegram messaging app. “Personally, I’d be very comfortable to see this.”

Britain has accused Lugovoi of involvement within the loss of life of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 after being poisoned with tea laced with radioactive polonium-210.

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