Finland seeks to extend detention of Russian suspected of war crimes in Ukraine

Helsinki District Court orders Yan Petrovsky, co-founder of neo-Nazi Rusich military group, to remain in custody

Alexandra Enberg  | 12.12.2023 - Update : 12.12.2023
Finland seeks to extend detention of Russian suspected of war crimes in Ukraine

IZMIR, Türkiye

The Finnish Border Guard applied to a court Monday to extend the detention of a Russian man suspected of committing war crimes in Ukraine. 

The detention case against Yan Petrovsky was discussed at the Helsinki District Court behind closed doors. The court ordered that he remain in custody.

The district court concealed his identity, but local media reported that the decision specifically concerned Petrovsky.

The court’s move may be because Petrovsky has applied for asylum in Finland, doing so under the name Voislav Torden.​​​​​​​  

His lawyer, Natalia Malgina, said he has submitted an asylum application but it is still being processed.

The Border Guard previously told the Finnish Immigration Service that Petrovsky's residence permit would be revoked and that he would be deported and banned from re-entering the country.

Petrovsky was released on Friday after Finland’s Supreme Court decided that Finland cannot hand him over to Ukraine for trial due to poor prison conditions in that country.

According to the Supreme Court, is there a real danger that Petrovsky may be placed in a Ukrainian prison where the conditions do not meet the requirements of humane treatment required by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Border Guard immediately took him into custody again under the Aliens Act.

Petrovsky co-founded the neo-Nazi Rusich military group, which has been accused of atrocities in Ukraine. He and his associates have been accused of torturing and killing Ukrainian military personnel.

Ukraine has demanded Petrovsky’s extradition.

Petrovsky was previously arrested in July at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on suspicion of participating in Rusich’s activities and supporting the group in other ways.

He is on the European Union’s sanctions list under the name Yan Petrovsky and is banned from entering Finland, but in Finland is known as Voislav Torden.

His previous identity was revealed with the help of the Border Guard's intelligence unit and facial comparison.

According to his lawyer, Petrovsky has a valid residence permit in Finland based on his wife's studies.

The Central Criminal Police have opened a case into whether there is a reason to initiate a preliminary investigation in Finland against Petrovsky for terrorism crimes. The authorities plan to assess soon whether the conditions for launching such an investigation have been met.

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