Turkmen national who swam Narva River to enter Estonia sent back to Russia

A man fishing on the Estonian bank of the Narva River where it passes between the cities of Narva and Ivangorod.
A man fishing on the Estonian bank of the Narva River where it passes between the cities of Narva and Ivangorod. Source: (Aili Vahtla/ERR)

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) apprehended a man who entered Estonia by swimming across the Narva River. The individual was claiming asylum, after authorities in his home country, Turkmenistan, placed him on an international wanted list several years ago.

Kristjan Pikhof, leading migration control official at the PPA's eastern prefecture, said that: "Based on the man's explanations, neither his life or health had been jeopardized in the Russian Federation, and he had the opportunity to legitimize his stay and residence in the Russian Federation, as well as to continue living there."

The man, named by BNS as Ahmet Jumadurdyyew, 26, swam the span of the Narva river from Ivangorod, on the Russian side of the border, to the Narva city river bank.

After being picked up by the PPA, Jumadurdyyew was taken to police headquarters, issued a precept and five-year entry ban, and handed over to Russian authorities some hours later.

Jumadurdyyew's older brother Arslan was sentenced in Turkmenistan to 25 years in prison in 2017 on what Russian human rights society Memorial calls trumped-up charges of religious extremism, BNS reports. The brothers are on a list with 11 of their compatriots, all of whom have been labeled "extremists" and who were studying in St. Petersburg and the surrounding area.

Two of those on the list were arrested and sentenced to 15 years' jail time, after returning to their home countries on a visit.

The PPA notes that Jumadurdyyew had acquired a higher education in Russia, had lived there for several years and also received legal aid during that time, nor was he being forced to leave Russia to return to Turkmenistan, Kristjan Pikhof said.

Jumadurdyyew studied at the Ivangorod Humanitarian and Technical Institute in 2013-2017, and in December 2017, he was detained at the border inspection point at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport in relation to the charges against him in his home country, after which he was jailed for a year, but not extradited.

However, he was denied asylum and the question of the legal grounds for his stay in Russia remained unresolved, BNS reports.

Sources say that Jumadurdyyew had met with some compatriots who were acquaintances at an Ivangorod hostel, on the eve of his border crossing bid. He is reportedly now in custody in Russia, while some of the Ivangorod acquaintances are being questioned by Russian authorities.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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