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Finnish court frees Russian militant and refuses to extradite him to Ukraine over concerns about prison conditions

Friday, 8 December 2023, 11:55
Finnish court frees Russian militant and refuses to extradite him to Ukraine over concerns about prison conditions
Yan Petrovsky. Photo: Russian media

Finland’s Supreme Court has refused to extradite Russian militant Yan Petrovsky to Ukraine due to the conditions in Ukrainian prisons and has ordered his immediate release.

Source: European Pravda, citing Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat

Details: The Russian had been investigated by the Security Service of Ukraine on suspicion of participating in a terrorist organisation. The investigation materials indicate that Petrovsky fought against Ukraine in 2014 together with terrorists from the "Luhansk People's Republic" as part of the so-called Rusich sabotage and assault reconnaissance group.


The Supreme Court explained that it could not consent to Petrovsky’s extradition due to the conditions in Ukrainian prisons. The court referred to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which states that Ukrainian prison conditions violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 3 states that no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The ECHR has identified overcrowding and various material shortcomings of Ukrainian prisons as a particular problem.

The Supreme Court of Finland believes that Petrovsky risks being subjected to treatment contrary to human dignity if he were extradited to Ukraine.

At the end of October, the Supreme Court of Sweden issued a similar ruling in an extradition case based on prison conditions in Ukraine, the newspaper writes.

Quote: "Reports indicate that the conditions of detention in Ukrainian prisons have further deteriorated during the war and may pose a threat to life and health. There are also reports of torture and violence, including against persons suspected of collaborating with Russia."

The Supreme Court ruled that there are no longer grounds for Petrovsky to be held in custody to ensure his possible extradition. The court ordered his immediate release, providing there are no other grounds for his detention.

The Finnish media reported on Petrovsky’s arrest in Finland on 25 August this year. He has been sanctioned by the EU and the US for actions that threaten the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

According to the US Treasury Department, Petrovsky has served as commander of the Rusich paramilitary group since 2022, when he took over from its former leader Alexei Milchakov, a neo-Nazi mercenary who has also been sanctioned.

US officials say Petrovsky assumed primary responsibility for commanding the Russian fighters after Milchakov was wounded in the battles for Kharkiv in 2022.

In August, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General prepared extradition files for Petrovsky.

After his arrest, Petrovsky asked to be extradited to Russia.

Petrovsky had been able to enter Finland thanks to a new name and the fact that his wife had been offered a place at a university there. He arrived in Finland by car through the Vaalimaa checkpoint on 19 July this year, accompanied by his wife and three children, and was detained on 20 July on suspicion of immigration crimes when he and his family were heading to Nice to visit relatives.

Petrovsky, who lived in Norway for several years in his youth, also took part in the war in Syria, fighting with a far-right group on the side of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Norway deported him to Russia in 2016, considering him a security threat.

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