Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finland threatens elderly dissident with deportation

The Finnish government is threatening to deport Maria Kirbasova, a semi-paralysed 67-year-old Russian woman who led an organisation of mothers of Russian conscripts, and also a protest against the war in Chechnya. From YLE (Finnish State Radio and TV):
Kirbasova's daughter, Kermen Soitu, told YLE Sunday that she and her mother have been contacted by many Finns offering their encouragement. In addition several church parishes have offered support, but none had extended sanctuary to Kirbasova. Soitu did not say if sanctuary would be sought from the church if no other means is found to keep her mother in the country.

Soitu did say that her mother will not return voluntarily to Russia.

"If the police come to the door with guns and forcibly take her away, then she will have to go. This is a familiar situation for my mother. During the Second World War she was exiled to Siberia. History repeats itself." said Kermin Soitu.

The Finnish Immigration Service rejected a residence permit application by Kirbasova because a mother-daughter relationship is not considered sufficient grounds for residence.
On Friday, the Helsinki Administrative Court rejected an appeal and upheld the order for her deportation.

Kirbasova arrived in Finland to stay with her daughter last October following her husband's funeral. The elderly and ailing Kirbasova wants to stay in Finland because of the quality of health care and rehabilitation services. She has no relatives in Russia to provide her with care. Her daughter has been supporting her and paying her medical bills in Finland.

One difficulty connected to Kirbasova returning to reside in Russia is her involvement in founding an organization opposed to the conflict in Chechnya.

"She has not been popular with the establishment in Russia for a long time. And, as a dissident, she will not get even the least amount of help," her daughter says.
Vera has more on the Kirbasova case here.

Update (June 10): Maria Kirbasova has been granted a one-week period of grace.
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