Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mikael Storsjö - Finland Exerts Pressure

Mikael Storsjö, the Finland-Swedish IT entrepreneur who hosted the Kavkaz Center servers which were seized by Swedish police on May 6, and who was subsequently targeted by disinformation posted to a Russian-language site posing as one of KC’s own, has now commented on recent events which I highlighted in two posts to this blog – here and here.

One or two points to note: Mikael writes that Visami Tutuyev is no longer working for KC. Tutuyev's son, Zaur, is now in Finland with his family, after Mikael arranged for them to travel there. Zaur as applied for asylum, but Mikael says that “apparently I myself will end up in court because I 'falsified documentation’, i.e. my invitation, as in it I only mentioned a visit to Finland, not that Zaur was coming to seek asylum! I know it sounds crazy, but apparently our authorities want to prevent people entering the country on visitor’s visas from applying for asylum – is it better then that they come here with forged papers and by paying human smugglers? It will be interesting to see what happens.” (my tr. from Swedish)

In fact, however, Mikael notes, “Zaur can be 100% sure about getting refugee status, as the son of his father. Zaur was also 1½ years ago quite badly injured by some mob in Baku, you don't have to be paranoid to understand why and by whom he was attacked.” (verbatim, English)

More background: “Zaur lived in Ukraine, where he got an allowance to stay for 3 months each time. We tried first to get visa from Kiev, I spoke with the Embassy personnel, and everything was OK. But suddenly it wasn't, he got refusal. I called to the Embassy, and asked why. I got the very strong impression it was due to his ethnical background - they didn't want to grant visa for a Chechen family from Grozny. In the year 2005 373.483 visas were applied for by citizens of Russian federation. There were only 5.198 refusals, i.e.98,61 % of applicants got their visa. I can't understand what is the justification that makes those close to 370.000 Russians more welcome to my country than my friends are. (verbatim)

“We made a new request through our Moscow embassy. I got some politicians involved, contacted Ambassador himself, I wrote maybe 5 letters and made some 20 calls there. Zaur then got a 7 day visa for himself, his wife and 5 year old son, and now they are here.” (verbatim)

The outcome of Mikael’s case will depend, he thinks, on the resolution of a court case currently underway in Finland. It concerns a Serbian family who sought asylum in Finland, but who are now, together with their lawyer, accused of having misled the authorities. The case has been reported in Finland's Swedish-language daily newspaper, Hufvudstadsbladet.

In a future post I'll look at some of the – often complicated - issues that relate to Kavkaz Center and the operation of its websites.

See also: Mikael Storsjö Radio Interview
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