Croatia arrests Pussy Riot activist wanted by Turkmenistan


Croatian police have arrested a Russian activist linked to the protest punk group Pussy Riot, acting on an international warrant issued by Turkmenistan, a member of the group announced on Wednesday.

Aysoltan Niyazova was arrested Monday morning at the Croatian border when she entered the country from Slovenia with the group, Maria Alyokhina told reporters.

Pussy Riot arrived here for a concert in Zagreb as part of their European tour to help Ukraine.

According to local media, Turkmen authorities accused Niyazova of embezzling money from the country’s central bank.

But Pussy Riot and Niyazova’s attorney Lina Budak says the warrant against her was politically motivated. Local human rights activists and Amnesty International have also condemned his detention.

Niyazova was briefly detained in Slovenia on the same arrest warrant issued by Turkmenistan in 2002.

“I want to raise this case just so everyone knows that an innocent person is in jail now and should be released,” Alyokhina said.

She was speaking to journalists outside the Zagreb prison where Niyazova is being held.

Niyazova’s lawyer, Budak, would not say what charge she was arrested on.

But she said her client had already served a six-year prison sentence in Russia for the offense cited on the Interpol warrant.

“She cannot be tried again, extradited or serve a new sentence,” the lawyer said, adding that they were appealing her detention.

Amnesty International has joined calls by local human rights activists for Niyazova’s release.

Zagreb knows that her “activism would expose her to serious abuse, including torture and other ill-treatment, if extradited to Turkmenistan”, said Julia Hall, Amnesty’s deputy director for Europe, in a statement.

“Turkmenistan is not a safe country for her or for any human rights defender,” she added.


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