site.btaMan Wanted by Russia for Tax Evasion Fights Extradition in Bulgarian Court, Claims He Opposes Putin Regime
A Russian man who is wanted by his country's authorities in connection with gross tax evasion but who claims that he is persecuted as Putin critic is fighting extradition through the Bulgarian court system.
On Wednesday, the Varna Appellate Court is hearing an appeal against the judgment authorizing the man's extradition.
Aleksei Alchin, 46, a resident of Varna for five years now, burned his Russian passport in the coastal city on February 24, 2022 during a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In late June, he was arrested and is held in custody after Russia requested his extradition, claiming that he evaded RUB 282 million - the equivalent of EUR 4.5 million - in taxes. Alchin's wife, Olga Gyurova, said in a Deutsche Welle interview that a Russian Embassy official in person delivered the documents on the extradition to the Bulgarian Justice Ministry. She sees this as an indication that the request is politically motivated.
The Russian authorities put Alchin on an Interpol Red Notice in February 2020.
The Varna Prosecution Office initiated the extradition procedure, and the first-instance Varna District Court on August 8 gave the go-ahead for the Russian's surrender to his country of origin.
Journalists, lecturers and human rights activists sent an open letter to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, asking him to grant Alchin's political asylum request.
Earlier this month, protests were staged in both Varna and Sofia against his extradition.
The Russian's wife fear that if he is sent back, her husband may be tortured and killed in prison as an opponent of the war and Russia's expansion.
On August 17, Bulgarian MEP Radan Kanev (EPP/Democratic Bulgaria) launched an initiative calling on the European Commission to issue a clear recommendation to Member States to terminate all pending and future extradition procedures for Russian nationals, especially when these nationals oppose the Kremlin regime.