Russian journalist Andrey Nekrasov has been granted asylum by the Lithuanian authorities after Cyprus returned him there in August following his arrest under a Russian warrant.
Renaldas Vaisbrodas, chief foreign policy advisor to the President of the Republic of Lithuania announced that it was important that those who have reasons to ask for asylum feel free in Lithuania. He told the press that Nekrasov could stay in Lithuania and enjoy the rights of EU citizens.
“I am happy and grateful for the opportunity to live and work here,” Nekrasov told media in Lithuania. He added that he planned to start a small business.
A minority of Russians lives in Lithuania and the Russian language is recognised, but Nekrasov intends to learn Lithuanian.
“I will probably have to live here at least a few years until the situation in Russia changes,” he said.
Nekrasov had been arrested in Cyprus under a Moscow-issued arrest warrant in July and was detained for nearly a month. Following the provision in European Union law which stipulates that he should be returned to his point of entry in the EU, he was returned to Lithuania. Under the law, an asylum application should also be processed by the EU nation which the applicant enters first, and consequently he applied for asylum in Lithuania.
The journalist fled his home town in the Russian Urals in March to escape imminent imprisonment in connection with his journalism and activism. His lawyers and NGOs say that he was attempting to expose corruption in the Russian Republic of Udmurtia.
As a result, he was facing up to 15 years in prison.