Russian asylum seeker who was denied intl protection in Estonia commits suicide

Anton Meleshko.
Anton Meleshko. Photo: Anton Meleško isiklikust arhiivist

A Russian citizen who had been sentenced to prison for a long time in Russia on charges of sexual violence and who had asked Estonia for international protection died in a detention center of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board on May 22.

The death of the Russian in the detention center was reported by the Polish publication Vot Tak, according to which the Russian took his own life on the day he received a rejection to his application for international protection.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) confirmed the death of the foreigner to the Rus.Postimees portal on May 31. According to PPA, the man's body was handed over for forensic analysis, during which the exact cause of death will be determined by autopsy. Since the judgment passed on the request for international protection is confidential, the PPA cannot comment on it.

The publication Vot Tak communicated with relatives and acquaintances of Anton Meleshko, who came to Estonia illegally in 2022 and lived in a detention center in Tallinn. The publication's sources claim that the 40-year-old man committed suicide on the day his request for international protection was rejected by the Estonian authorities.

The head of the detention center, Remo Tanav, told Rus.Postimees that on the evening of May 22, the employees of the detention center prevented the escape attempt of a 40-year-old man. Namely, he tried to climb over the fence surrounding the center. The man was then placed in a solitary cell to prevent further escape attempts. According to Tanav, all items that could have been used in the escape were taken from the man.

The man committed suicide when he was out of sight of the security camera.

There are no security cameras in the premises of the detention center where foreigners awaiting a response to their application for international protection are placed. However, the Russian was placed in a solitary cell with video surveillance after the escape attempt. The only room where the eye of the camera does not reach is the bathroom. At the same time, the established procedure stipulates that if a person stays outside the range of the camera longer than prescribed, an employee of the center must check the situation, Tanav said.

At around 7 p.m., the man told the employees that he was going to wash. After about 20 minutes, the camera had not recorded any movement, so it was decided to check according to the rules, and it turned out that the man had taken his own life.

Tanav did not explain how the man committed suicide. However, PPA spokesperson Annika Maksimov told Vot Tak that the man committed suicide using a rope, which he had carefully hidden.

The PPA said that the police are currently determining all the circumstances of the incident and the actions of the detention center employees during the check.

Anton Meleshko fled to Estonia two years ago with his girlfriend. To do this, the man stole his brother's passport because they looked alike and used it to leave Russia. Before leaving Russia, the court had sentenced Meleshko to nine years in a colony in Altai on charges of raping a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Vot Tak journalists said. This was the second judgment. The original verdict had sentenced the man to 2.5 years in a settlement colony, from which Russian prisoners have the right to leave temporarily.