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France grants political asylum to paratrooper who fled Russia after taking part in Ukraine invasion

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Pavel Filatiev, a former Russian paratrooper who participated in the invasion of Ukraine and later authored a book about the war, has received political asylum in France, according to a report by independent investigative outlet Agentstvo (“The Agency”). Filatiev himself confirmed the news to Agentstvo and provided a document received from the French refugee authority OFPRA as evidence.

Filatiev participated in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where he was wounded and eventually left the Russian army. During the summer of 2022, he published his anti-war book “ZOV 56” online and fled Russia, fearing potential criminal charges. In October last year, he applied for political asylum in France.

Filatiev was recently embroiled in a conflict with human rights organization Gulagu.net. The dispute arose from a disagreement over the rights to his book. Initially, Filatiev had transferred the rights to Gulagu.net's founder, Vladimir Osechkin, but later changed his mind and took legal action when Osechkin refused to terminate the contract.

Following this conflict, Osechkin accused Filatiev of “hiding from information about the murders of Ukrainians, in the detention of whom he took part” from him and the media. Osechkin based his conclusions on an interview Filatiev gave to the Swedish publication Dn.se.

Filatiev, however, claimed that Osechkin had misunderstood the Dn.se article. He asserted that he was not a direct witness to Russian military personnel shooting prisoners. Instead, he admitted to having heard a rumor about such an incident from another source.

Vladimir Osechkin

Human rights activist, founder of Gulagu.net

Pavel Filatiev's interview with Dn.se

During the interview, Filatiev recounted the accounts of his former comrades, stating that some of the Ukrainian captives taken by him and his fellow soldiers were subsequently shot or hanged. Osechkin believes that such statements imply Filatiev's “de facto concealment” of his involvement in war crimes, leading to the assertion that he should not be eligible for political asylum.

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