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Russian Opposition Activist Appeals to Estonians as Moscow Issues Arrest Order

Source: Photo: Public Twitter photo

Anastasia Rybachenko, a Russian opposition activist who has been living in Estonia and studying at Tallinn University of Technology, has said she hopes Estonia will not hand her over to Russian authorities.

She has been wanted in Russia since last year, and on October 11 a Moscow court issued an arrest order in absentia, paving the way for Interpol to begin processing her case, reported Postimees.

Rybachenko told ERR News that an appeal to the arrest ruling will be heard in court on Friday.

If the ruling is upheld, she expects Russia to apply to Interpol to post an international warrant, a process she hopes to counter by appealing directly to the agency, showing evidence that the case is of a political nature.

Article 3 of Interpol's constitution forbids the organization from becoming involved in political matters.

The 22-year-old said that the news of her arrest in absentia - which she heard via her lawyer in Moscow immediately after the ruling was made - was unexpected. She added that Russian police had initially applied to Interpol in June to have her put on its watch list, but were turned down due to the absence of an arrest warrant in her home country.

As a former spokeswoman of Solidarnost, a Russian opposition group, Rybachenko, along with a host of activists, is wanted for her part in protests at Bolotnaya Square in May 2012, where she allegedly inciting rioting.

Rybachenko, however, asserts that she is a victim of political persecution in a matter that has become the subject of a European Parliament resolution expressing concern.

She told ERR News that she has no plans to apply for asylum, and that her ultimate goal is to return to her home country. Rybachenko said she applied for studies in four different countries outside Russia after it became apparent that authorities were targeting her and other activists involved in the Bolotnaya Square case, and describes her studies in Tallinn as doing something productive with her time while awaiting a resolution of the matter.

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