Russian Requests Asylum, Cites Imprisonment Fears
A Russian businessman, Vyacheslav Drezner, has requested asylum from Estonia, fearing that Russian authorities will jail him if he returns to his home country.
In 2010, ETV reported, Drezner had planned to conduct a survey in Russia's Kareila region asking residents if they wanted to reunite with Finland, to which parts of the territory had belonged to before the Winter War.
A Russian court told Drezner he could face a three-year sentence but let him off with a 100,000-ruble fine (2,500 euros), according to Drezner. But later the court imposed another fine, this time three times bigger, and Drezner said he feared imprisonment.
He received a Schengen visa and fled to Finland, where he lived for two years before Finnish authorities turned down his asylum request. Drezner is now living in Estonia, but is not permitted to work as he waits for a decision on his asylum application, which could take the Citizenship and Migration Bureau six months to process.
Drezner said he will not return to Russia in any event.
"They would put me in prison and I could expect a physical squaring of accounts," Drezner said.