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Russian opposition activist granted asylum in Lithuania

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AFP Vilnius
Lithuania today granted political asylum to anti-Kremlin activist and historian Dmitry Bukhenkov, the latest Russian to receive refugee status in the Baltic state in recent years.
"The migration department has provided him asylum, refugee status. We will not comment about the reasons. Simply put, he meets the criteria to receive refugee status," the department's chief Evelina Gudzinskaite told AFP.
The 39-year-old Moscow academic was detained in 2015 for over a year after being accused of clashing with police at an anti-Kremlin demonstration in 2012 following a presidential election won by Vladimir Putin.
Bukhenkov denied the allegation, telling AFP: "I was well-known to the political police and I had taken part in many opposition demonstrations, but not this one for which I was detained."

Later placed under house arrest, he decided to flee the country and contacted human rights activists, who oriented him towards Lithuania.
He arrived in October 2017 after passing through Belarus to avoid contact with Russian border guards.
"I chose Lithuania for two reasons: the clear anti-Putin orientation of its leaders and the fact that 50 to 60 percent of Lithuanians understand Russian," Bukhenkov said.
A total of 33 Russians have received political asylum in Lithuania since 2014, according to the migration department.

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First Published: Jun 28 2018 | 8:15 PM IST

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