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Finland frees Russian neo-Nazi militant involved in Ukraine war crimes

Finland’s Supreme Court denied Ukraine’s extradition request for Yan Petrovsky, a founding member of the Rusich neo-Nazi group that tortured and killed Ukrainian prisoners of war, and ordered his immediate release.
Petrovsky
Yan Petrovsky (on the right). Credit: Bukvy.com

The Supreme Court of Finland denied Ukraine’s request for the extradition of Russian militant Yan Petrovsky (also known as Voislav Torden), who allegedly committed war crimes in Ukraine, the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported.

The Russian militant of the neo-Nazi sabotage and assault reconnaissance group Rusich that took part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Yan Petrovsky, was released from a Finnish prison on 8 December. Shortly after his release, Yan Petrovsky was detained by Finnish border guards.

According to Ilta-Sanomat, the Finnish Border Guard picked up Yan Petrovsky right from the prison door. Petrovsky will likely be deported from Finland, according to Ilta-Sanomat.

The Supreme Court of Finland denied Ukraine’s request to extradite Yan Petrovsky because Petrovsky’s treatment in Ukraine may not meet the requirements of humane treatment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Supreme Court concludes that extradition of Voislav Torden [Yan Petrovsky – ed.] to Ukraine would result in a threat of treatment of him in a manner that violates human dignity,” the Supreme Court of Finland stated.

Since Petrovsky cannot be extradited, the Supreme Court ordered him to be released from custody immediately.

Yan Petrovsky was arrested in Finland on 25 August 2023. He was included in the EU and US sanctions list for “actions that threaten the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

According to the US Treasury Department, Petrovsky took command of the Rusich group in 2022, replacing its former leader Alexei Milchakov, a neo-Nazi mercenary who publicly admitted he had tortured and killed Ukrainian prisoners of war during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to US officials, Petrovsky assumed primary responsibility for the command of the Rusich group after Milchakov was wounded in the battles for Kharkiv in 2022. Yan Petrovsky was one of the founding members of the Rusich group.

According to the investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, Yan Petrovsky fought against Ukraine as part of the so-called Rusich sabotage and assault reconnaissance group and committed war crimes on the territory of Ukraine.

On the day of Petrovky’s arrest in Finland on 25 August, the Rusich sabotage and reconnaissance group, a far-right Russian irregular paramilitary unit, announced that the group would refuse to conduct combat missions in Ukraine until the Russian government secures the release of Yan Petrovsky from the Finnish custody. The Rusich group accused the Russian government of not meeting its obligations to protect Russian citizens abroad by not securing Petrovsky’s release earlier.

Yan Petrovsky lived in Norway for several years in his youth but decided to return to Russia and participate in the Russian war in Ukraine and later in Syria as part of a far-right group fighting on the side of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, according to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. Eventually, Norway deported Petrovsky to Russia in 2016 because he was considered a security threat.

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