Ukraine under fire in Russian activist`s abduction

Ukraine`s main opposition party claims that President Viktor Yanukovych sanctioned the abduction of Leonid Razvozzhayev.

Updated: Oct 26, 2012, 08:31 AM IST

Kiev: Ukraine let Russian agents kidnap an anti-Kremlin activist in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and forcibly bring him back to Moscow, the main opposition party charged on Thursday.

The party led by jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko claims that President Viktor Yanukovych sanctioned the abduction of Leonid Razvozzhayev in order to secure the Kremlin`s backing for Sunday`s Parliamentary Election in Ukraine.

"The special services of a foreign state are operating on Ukraine`s territory," said Tymoshenko ally Arseniy Yatsenyuk. "As I understand it, they will probably be taking part in tallying Ukrainians` votes."

Yanukovych, who visited Moscow earlier this week, has been courting the Kremlin to seek a rebate on Russian natural gas supplies. A lower gas price is essential to keep the struggling Ukrainian economy afloat and would secure public support for Yanukovych and his party.

Razvozzhayev, a 39-year-old Russian opposition activist, had come to Kiev last week to seek political asylum in Ukraine after Russian investigators accused him of being involved in plotting anti-government riots.

Razvozzhayev told Russian human rights defenders who visited him in a Moscow jail this week that he was kidnapped on a Kiev street by masked men who smuggled him into Russia.

He said they kept him in handcuffs and leg chains in a basement for three days, denying him food, water, sleep or use of a toilet. He also said they threatened to kill his children until he "confessed" to plotting riots.

Russian authorities say Razvozzhayev turned himself in and confessed voluntarily.

Ukraine`s Foreign Ministry and the national security agency have declined to comment on the matter. But Interior Ministry spokesman Volodymyr Polishchuk yesterday allowed for the possibility that Russian security services could have been involved in Razvozzhayev`s abduction.

"How did it happen? Did they ask him to (go) of his own free will? Or did they just force him? I don`t know," Polishchuk told a news agency.

Either way, Polishchuk said, what happened to Razvozzhayev does not constitute a crime because he is "alive and well”, and the Interior Ministry will not press charges.

"This is not the province of the police. The police deal with criminal actions," he said.

Yatsenyuk vowed that the opposition would press for a parliamentary probe into Razvozzhayev`s case. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, has urged Ukraine to thoroughly investigate Razvozzhayev`s abduction.