Wednesday, October 29, 2014 11:29 am
A Franco-Russian opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin has beaten a request by Moscow to extradite him from Bulgaria to answer what he said were trumped-up charges, he and his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Nikolay Koblyakov — co-founder of an anti-Putin association active in France — was arrested in Bulgaria on July 29 after Russia said it wanted him on fraud charges.
He denied any wrongdoing and a Sofia court refused his extradition on October 21 for lack of evidence.
The prosecution had the option of appealing the court ruling, but did not file a protest by a Tuesday deadline so the court’s denial of the extradition has come into effect, his lawyer Bilyana Kotsakova told AFP.
“He is now free to leave the country,” she added.
Koblyakov, who has dual French and Russian nationality, said he planned to return to France “in the coming days”.
“This decision of the court shows that Bulgaria is a true member of the European community when respect for human rights is concerned,” he said.
He said that Russia’s accusations against him were “politically motivated”.
Bulgaria, a former Communist state which joined the European Union in 2007, has maintained close ties with Russia, upon which its energy sector is still highly dependent.