Moscow arrests 'angel of the refugees'
Now she risks being repatriated to Uzbekistan, from where she fled after the 2005 Andijan massacre. A point of reference for all Central Asian migrants. She has accused some Russian officials of corruption. Putin's representative for human rights intervenes to help her.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The internal security services (FSSB) have prevented human rights activist Valentina Čupik from entering Moscow's Šeremetevo airport. Of Uzbek nationality, the 48-year-old lawyer is the founder of the non-profit association Tong Zakhony ("Morning of the World"), which helps migrants arriving in Russia from Central Asia. On September 25th, on her return from a trip to Armenia, FSB agents informed her that she had been deprived of her refugee status on Russian territory - granted in 2009 - and that she would not be allowed to return to the country for the next 30 years.
The authorities seized Čupik's documents. Before being locked up in a security cell at the airport, the activist managed to communicate by phone with some journalists. Now she risks being repatriated to Uzbekistan, from which she fled many years ago. She maintains if returned, "they will throw me in a cellar of the Uzbek secret services prisons".
Valentina had arrived in Russia in 2005 after the Andijan massacre, when the authorities had opened fire on the crowd gathered in front of the court to protest against the trial of a group of Muslims, considered dangerous extremists.
The relatives of the detainees claimed that they were simple worshippers, without any tendency towards terrorism, but the shooting led to over 500 deaths. Since then, Čupik has chosen the cause of the persecuted and migrants, to whom she offers free advice night and day. Not only Uzbeks, but all migrants from Central Asian countries know her phone number and benefit from her dedication.
Russian authorities did not disclose the reasons for the measures against the activist. They have only informed that her refugee status has been revoked on the basis of the article that condemns "the presentation of false testimony or forged documents" in the practices related to migrants. The woman claims to be the victim of "a revenge by the Police Forces".
Yesterday Valentina managed to connect again with the journalists of Currentime.tv, to whom she expressed her gratitude because "thanks to their insistence last night they turned off the light for a few hours, and I was able to sleep a little". The activist strongley denies the charges of forgery, "as everyone knows, I am fanatical about observing the rules and I am not able to hide or lie in any way, I hate any form of deception".
During the interrogation with a member of the FSB, she was told that "she should not talk about corruption among officials, now they all have a poisoned tooth." In March of this year, Čupik had had an altercation with officials in a public square, and the incident had also garnered some media coverage.
The FSB did not allow Čupik to meet with her lawyer, who has tried in vain to gain access to the airport prison. If she is deported to Uzbekistan, Valentina fears for her safety, having refused to pay bribes for migrants in her homeland, when she was already working for their practices, and had already been arrested and threatened. After the regime change in Tashkent in 2015, Čupik hoped to return to her country, but she remained in Russia after being warned that she would risk her life.
The hope now is that Valentina can be sent to some other, less dangerous state for her, although she herself wonders what she could do outside of Russia and Uzbekistan, where migrants do not know how to do without her help. The presidential representative for human rights, Tatjana Moskalkova, has intervened on her behalf, and has decided to put her office and her freedom at risk; a last hope is for teh support and solidarity of national and international public opinion.