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Germany Accepts First Russian Refugee

June 9, 2005

Germany for the first time has granted political asylum to a Russian national who stood as a candidate in regional elections and was allegedly tortured while in custody, a German newspaper reported Thursday. Oleg Liskin, 36, risked being arrested for his political activity if he returned to Russia, according to the German federal office of migration and refugees, which granted him asylum, the daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. Liskin was held in custody and allegedly tortured in 2001 after standing as a candidate in regional elections to become governor of Tula in central Russia, according to an immigration and refugee office report. He came to Berlin in December 2002 because he risked being sent to prison for being a danger to state security, the report said. Liskin also worked for the Russian bank Legprombank, which supported the Russian reformist party Yabloko. An immigration and refugee office spokesperson, contacted by AFP news service, refused to comment on the case. Liskin is the first Russian national to have been granted political asylum in Germany, according to human rights group Amnesty International in Germany. "It's a sign," said Amnesty International's Russian expert, Peter Franck. Gernot Erler, the foreign affairs expert for the ruling Social Democrat party, described the decision as "very unusual."

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