After the Turkmen blogger was deported, Russian border guards began to deny that they had refused to accept his asylum application.
In Istanbul, Turkmen diplomats warn Choliyev's acquaintances that they are looking for him "to help him".
As we reported earlier, on March 23, Rozgeldy Choliyev, a Turkmen opposition blogger who applied for asylum in Russia, was deported to Istanbul. While waiting for the decision of the migration authority, he spent about three weeks in the international transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport.
As soon as the plane with Choliev took off, the Border Service of the Russian Federation sent a letter to the Human Rights Center «Memorial» in which they outlined their version of the misadventures of the Turkmen blogger in Russia. The response, signed on March 22 by Mikhail Poshtanov, Head of the Department of Border Control Department, states that until March 18, Choliev allegedly did not try to apply with a written application for asylum to the border guards, and therefore they did not take any steps to transfer his application to the migration authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as this is provided for by the law of the Russian Federation "On Refugees".
Such a presentation of events does not correspond to the information available to the Human Rights Center «Memorial». In particular, we have a photocopy of Choliev's written statement dated March 6 addressed to the Russian Border Guard Service, drawn up by him after telephone consultations with lawyer Roza Magomedova. According to Choliev, the border guards, contrary to the law, refused to accept this statement from him, referring to the lack of instructions from the leadership. In the response of the border service, there is no mention of a visit to the asylum seeker in the international zone on March 9 by a person who identified himself as a representative of the migration authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This unknown person accepted his asylum application and said that it would be processed within about three months. As regards Choliyev's repeated application of March 18 mentioned in Poshtanov's reply, as can be seen from the available copy, it was drawn up on a special form, which the asylum seeker did not have at the time of his arrival in Russia. It is not clear why this form was provided by the border guards to Choliyev only two weeks after his attempts to contact them orally and in writing.
Due to the presence of false information and questions about the content of the response of the head of the division of the Border Control Department, the Human Rights Center «Memorial» sent a request to the leadership of the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation to conduct an internal check, including using video recordings at the airport.
Meanwhile, there are reports from Istanbul about attempts by Turkmen diplomats to track down an opposition blogger.
According to the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, when leaving the transit zone of the airport, a Turkish police officer told Choliyev that a representative of the Turkmen consulate had been waiting for him for the second day. The blogger refused to talk to the diplomat. After that, the policeman himself talked to him on the phone and said that “the consulate asks for copies of all your documents” and that “they said they would find you in Turkey themselves.”
On the same day, Choliev's acquaintances in Istanbul, citizens of Turkmenistan with whom he had lived before leaving for Russia, said they could no longer accept him, as they had already been visited by consular officials and they feared possible consequences for themselves.