Russians who fled from mobilization have been living at Seoul airport for several months

The South Korean Ministry of Justice believes that draft evasion in Russia is not a valid reason for granting refugee status.

Five Russians who fled from Putin’s mobilization in the Russian Federation are forced to live at Seoul International Airport. The local authorities refused to grant them refugee status.

This is reported by The Korea Times. The Russians arrived at the capital’s Incheon International Airport a couple of months ago and immediately applied for refugee status.

However, the South Korean government rejected their applications at the preliminary evaluation stage. The Ministry of Justice of this country considers that draft evasion is not a valid reason for recognizing them as refugees. Now they are likely to be repatriated.

“I find it nothing to be ashamed of to defend my country. I would volunteer (to fight) if someone attacks us and put my loved ones in danger,” said Vladimir Maraktaev, adding that he had already completed the compulsory one-year of military service in 2019. “But it’s a totally different story when my own country is the aggressor. I will never take weapons to go and kill innocent people in Ukraine,” one of the Russians told reporters.

From left, Andrey (an alias), Dzhashar Khubiev and Vladimir Maraktaev stand in the departures hall at Incheon International Airport, Jan. 3. The three are among five Russian men who arrived in Korea fleeing the Russian government’s mobilization order to the war in Ukraine. The men are currently staying in the departure waiting room within the airport’s duty free area after the Korean government rejected their refugee application. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

While the Russians live in the airport transit zone, the local Ministry of Justice provides them with food, providing a bun and a juice box for breakfast and dinner, and rice and chicken for lunch.

Meanwhile, the Russians challenged Korea’s refusal to grant them political asylum in a local court. The court decision is expected at the end of this month.

Another Russian claim that he allegedly had no choice but to flee after he received a the conscription notice.

“I’ve participated in multiple anti-government rallies. Once the police arrested me and beat me during an hours-long interrogation session. I had to get a surgery for my broken chin and nose,” he said. “I knew I would be thrown to the frontlines (in the Ukraine war) because I’m on their blacklist,” he said.

If the court sides with the men who fled Russia, they will be issued G-1 visas that guarantee a temporary stay in Korea until they pass the official refugee status verification process. If the court rules against them, the asylum seekers will likely be deported to their home country.

The Ministry of Justice, for its part, told The Korea Times that it had reviewed their applications for refugee status following applicable law. “Verification procedures were carried out following the rules set out in the Refugee Law, which was adopted based on international standards for the verification of refugees and cases abroad in developed countries,” the statement said.

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