Case Studies

Petr Silaev: INTERPOL spotlight


Petr Silaev is a Russian activist and recognised refugee, who was imprisoned and threatened with extradition following a request circulated through INTERPOL.

In July 2010, Petr participated in a demonstration in Moscow in support of the Khimki forest ecological campaign. Those taking part in the campaign were subject to intimidation and violence with one man, local journalist Mikhail Beketov, beaten so badly he eventually died in hospital. During a widespread crackdown following the demonstration, police accused Petr of “hooliganism” – an offence widely misused in Russia, including against the punk band “Pussy Riot”.

Petr escaped Russia and was recognised as a political refugee in the EU (by Finland). Despite this, Russia was able to use INTERPOL to ask countries across the globe to arrest and extradite Petr. Due to this INTERPOL alert, Petr was arrested and detained in Spain and threatened with extradition to Russia. After a long legal battle, Spain recognised that Petr was being prosecuted for his political opinions and refused to extradite him but Petr continued to live under the shadow of a politically-motivated Russian arrest warrant circulated across the globe through INTERPOL.

On 21st May 2013, Fair Trials made an application to INTERPOL’s internal review panel (the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files) highlighting how the case breaches the organisation’s own Constitution and calling on it to delete the information on Petr from its systems.

In a one page letter, dated 23rd October 2013, INTERPOL rejected a challenge to Russia’s use of an international wanted person alert against refugee, Petr Silaev. The one page response rejected Fair Trial’s application, without referring to any specific facts of the case, stating that: “there is no reason to believe that the retention of information [relating to Petr] in INTERPOL’s files would not be in compliance with INTERPOL’s rules”. There was no hearing before the decision was reached and there was no right of appeal against this decision. Fair Trials sought a reasoned decision from INTERPOL and asked for disclosure of “additional information” which it confirms was received from Russia since submission of the application. We also asked INTERPOL to disclose details of Russia’s use of INTERPOL alerts, including against those wanted on hooliganism charges.

However, on 28th October 2014, Fair Trials received a letter from the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) stating that: “the information previously provided by Russia concerning Mr Petr SILAEV [has been] deleted from INTERPOL’s files and all INTERPOL’s member countries accordingly informed”. This confirmation comes after a sustained campaign by Fair Trials to have information regarding Petr removed from INTERPOL’s files.