Kiev Gives Asylum To Political Activist

Ukraine has granted political asylum to an activist with the banned National Bolshevik Party who faces criminal charges in Russia that she calls fabricated, a fellow activist and political refugee said Wednesday.

Anna Ploskonosova, 20, was facing up to five years in prison on charges of assaulting a police officer during a Nov. 7 opposition rally in Tula -- allegations she said were trumped up. She fled to Ukraine earlier this year and subsequently applied for political asylum.

Ploskonosova, who was the fiancee of a National Bolshevik beaten to death in murky circumstances last year, learned Tuesday that Ukrainian authorities had granted her asylum, fellow activist and refugee Mikhail Gangan said by telephone from Ukraine.

She became the third National Bolshevik to receive political asylum in Ukraine in recent years.

A fourth party activist was to submit his application for asylum to Ukrainian authorities on Thursday, said Gangan, who declined to name the activist or elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his decision to flee Russia.

Yury Korolyuk, a spokesman for Ukraine's State Committee for Nationalities and Religion, which deals with asylum requests, said confidentiality laws prevented him from commenting on Ploskonosova's case.

"All information concerning the status of refugees is secret," Korolyuk said by telephone from Kiev.

National Bolshevik activists, known for their theatrical protests, have faced often heavy-handed crackdowns by law enforcement authorities in recent years.

Ploskonosova's fiance, Yury Chervochkin, was beaten to death by unidentified assailants in the Moscow region town of Serpukhov last November, two days before an opposition rally in Moscow. His friends and colleagues have accused local police of being behind the attack. No suspects have been detained.

National Bolsheviks say they prefer seeking asylum in Ukraine rather than in other countries because of its proximity to Russia, lack of a visa regime and a general absence of a language barrier.

Ploskonosova submitted her application for refugee status to immigration officials in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa on March 9. Attempts to reach her for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

In December 2005, Moscow's Tverskoi District Court handed Gangan, 22, a three-year suspended sentence for storming the reception area of the presidential administration to protest Kremlin policies along with several dozen National Bolsheviks. A Samara court last year ruled that Gangan had violated the terms of his suspended sentence and handed him a real prison term. He subsequently fled Russia.

Another National Bolshevik, 24-year-old Olga Kudrina, was granted asylum in Ukraine in March after a two-year wait.

n Oleg Kozlovsky, head of the opposition youth group Oborona, will receive an award Thursday from Human Rights First, a New York-based NGO, the web site of opposition activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov reported Wednesday.