Berezhkov today delivers his application for political asylum in Norway to the police in Tromsø, where he is studying. The former Vice President of RAIPON, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North has been living in Norway for the last couple of years.
Berezhkov was arrested by Norwegian police in June based on a demanded extradition from Russian police, who claims he is guilty of economic crimes. He was freed from prison two days later after the District Court in Tromsø had ruled that the conditions for extradition of Berezhkov to Russian authorities were not present. The decision was appealed by the police but the Appellate Court decided to uphold the first court ruling.
Berzhkov denies being involved in any economic crimes in Russia. The appeal court ruling reads that the prosecution against Berezhkov in Russia could be linked with Russian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on RAIPON.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee supports Berezhkov in his case, stating «After Putin’s return to power we have witnessed an increased pressure on independent critical communities in Russia, particularly the civil society and human rights activists”, as General Secretary of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland says to NRK Sapmi.
Dmitry Berezhkov himself was in good spirit after having talked to Engesland about seeking political asylum: “My biggest hope is to get a firm base for the future. It is psychologically very hard to live like this, not knowing what the next day will be like. It is specially hard for my family“, he says to BarentsObserver. “I hope the Norwegian side will be independent from political and economic pressure when they regard my application”, he adds.
The procedure of getting political asylum in Norway can take everything from 5-6 months to several years.