Decision to extradite Ukrainian separatist takes effect

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The extradition of Estonian citizen Vladimir Poljakov to Ukraine who is suspected of fighting in the ranks of separatists in eastern Ukraine took effect on Friday as the Estonian Supreme Court did not accept his cassation.

The government decided on Dec. 16 to grant Ukraine's request for the extradition of Estonian national Vladimir Poljakov who stands accused of belonging to a terrorist organization. The Ukrainian authorities accuse him of performing duties assigned to him by the military of the so-called Lugansk People's Republic including the guarding of facilities and illegally captured individuals and taking part in battles.

The man's lawyer contested the government's decision in the Tallinn administrative court that decided on Feb. 3 to annul the government's decision. The administrative court ordered the government to make a new decision regarding the extradition.

Thereafter the government turned to the Tallinn circuit court which on May 19 left in force the government's decision, after which Poljakov's lawyer filed a cassation to the Supreme Court which on Friday did not accept it.

In Ukraine Poljakov could be sentenced to prison for eight to 15 years, while in Estonia he could be given a prison sentence of five to 20 years.

The Internal Security Service detained Poljakov in February 2015 while he was traveling from Estonia to Russia with the intention of reaching Lugansk from there. The Ukrainian authorities submitted a request for his extradition in summer 2015. The crime of which the man is accused is punishable under both the Ukrainian and the Estonian penal code.

The lower-level Harju county court decided on Sept. 22 that it was legally permissible to deliver the suspect to Ukrainian authorities. The man's defense appealed the ruling, but the Tallinn circuit court upheld it and the Supreme Court did not accept the case.

The court said that in the course of the proceeding no circumstances came to light which suggest the extradition request was based on Poljakov's political views rather than the crimes described in the request.

The Public Prosecutor's Office noted that the court did not deal with the suspect's guilt but solely assessed the permissibility of his extradition. The decision on the extradition of a citizen of Estonia is made by the government and it can be contested in the administrative court.