Czechia detains Crimea annexation participant at Ukraine’s request

Alexander Franchetti (facing camera, in the foreground of the banner) and Russian militants in Crimea in 2014. Source 

Crimea, International

Russian citizen Aleksandr Franchetti was detained at Prague airport on an international arrest warrant issued at the request of Ukraine, which demands his extradition. According to RFE/RL, this was first reported by Russian authorities in the annexed Crimea and later confirmed by the Czech police.

In 2014, Franchetti actively participated in the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia. As previously reported by the media, a few days before the Russian operation to annex the peninsula, he headed the group “North Wind” of 11 responsible for securing power lines, gas pipelines, as well as the identification of alleged “extremist groups” around Sevastopol, one of Crimea’s major cities.

Occupied territories in Ukraine and near its western border. Map base: Google Maps, map: Euromaidan Press

Later Franchetti himself admitted that this group had collaborated with the command of the Russian Navy. According to Myrotvorets, Franchetti was awarded the Russian medal “For the Return of Crimea.”

A Russian national with a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic, Aleksandr Franchetti has been active in Czechia since the 1990s and currently lives in Prague working as a fitness instructor. Meanwhile, he visits Crimea regularly, claiming that he had never violated international law despite the fact that Ukraine sees entering Crimea from Russia as illegal.

In 2019, Czech Radio, citing its sources, reported that the Czech domestic intelligence services were investigating Franchetti.

Russian citizen Alexandr Franchetti as Prague fitness trainer. Source: Facebook/Alexandr Franchetti

Aleksandr Molokhov, an employee of the Russian presidential office in Crimea, told RIA Novosti that Franchetti will now probably be sent “to Ukraine, to certain death.” BBC notes that Molokhov didn’t specify why he had reasons to fear for Franchetti’s life as the death penalty hasn’t been applied in Ukraine since the late 1990s and was officially abolished about 20 years ago.

As Ukraine has been trying to get extradited the Russian citizen detained in the Czech Republic who partook in the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated in his comment to RIA Novosti that the Czech Republic hasn’t informed Russia about the detention of a Russian national. According to him. Russia sent a number of inquiries to the Czech authorities with a request to clarify the circumstances of the detention.

  • Also this week in Czechia, two Czechs who took part in the fighting in eastern Ukraine on the side of the Russian-hybrid forces were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • In April 2021, a diplomatic scandal broke out between Russia and the Czech Republic: after the Czech accusations of the Russian secret services in the explosions in Vrbetice in 2014, Prague and Moscow exchanged large-scale expulsions of diplomats.
  • Lately, Czech courts regularly jails local militants who had fought in Donbas on the side of the hybrid army of the Russian Federation. Since May 2021, four militants have been imprisoned in the Czech Republic for 20 years.

Russia annexed Crimea following a 2014 referendum that was held contrary to Ukrainian law and after the Russian military took control of the peninsula. Kyiv and Western countries consider this to be a violation of international law. Moscow calls the annexation of the peninsula “restoration of historical justice.” The events of the spring of 2014 Russia often calls “Russian” or “Crimean” spring.

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