The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Russia must not deport migrant rights activist Valentina Chupik to Uzbekistan until at least October 17. Chupik, who is an Uzbek citizen, has been in custody at an immigration detention center at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since September 25.
The ECHR suspended Chupik’s deportation under Rule 39, which authorizes the court to take interim measures in cases where there’s an imminent risk of irreparable damage to the applicant. (Most often, Rule 39 is applied to prevent an applicant’s extradition or expulsion).
“Now everything will depend on what [the authorities] will do and how they’ll reply to the court,” Chupik’s lawyer Daria Trenina wrote on Facebook.
The ECHR made its decision on Thursday, September 30. That same day, staff from the Uzbek consulate visited Chupik in custody at the Moscow airport, in order to draw up the documents for her deportation. According to Novaya Gazeta, representatives have filed asylum applications on behalf of Chupik and her mother with Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and the Ukrainian Consulate in Russia.
On October 1, Trenina said that she has been unable to reach Chupik “for some time now.” “She isn’t allowed to charge her phone. Let’s hope this is the only reason,” the lawyer wrote on Facebook.
Valentina Chupik fled Uzbekistan in 2006 and was granted refugee status in Russia three years later. Through her nonprofit organization Tong Jahon, she provided free legal assistance to migrants in Moscow.
The Interior Ministry’s Moscow branch deprived Chupik of her refugee status in Russia on September 17, on the grounds that she had allegedly presented false information or forged documents when applying for asylum in 2006. Chupik was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport upon returning from Armenia on September 25. FSB officers then informed her that she had been deprived of her refugee status and barred from entering Russia for the next 30 years (until September 2051).
Chupik maintains that her deportation from Russia is due to her criticism of corruption within the Interior Ministry. The Committee Against Torture submitted an urgent application to the ECHR on her behalf on September 27. Human rights activists warn that Chupik will face persecution and even torture at the hands of the authorities if she is returned to Uzbekistan.