Rights group to Croatia: release Pussy Riot member now

June 1, 2022 GMT

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Croatia to halt extradition proceedings to Turkmenistan and immediately release a detained member of a Russian music band known for its strident opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies.

Lawyers for the rights group and the member of the Pussy Riot band said Croatia detained Aysoltan Niyazov on the strength of a 2002 Interpol warrant issued by Turkmenistan for alleged embezzlement. Neighboring Slovenia had previously arrested Niyazov but released her immediately.

Pussy Riot is on a tour in Europe protesting the war in Ukraine and Putin’s policies. The band became internationally known after its members were jailed in Russia for their activism.

“Croatian authorities know that Aysoltan Niyazov’s activism would put her at great risk of suffering serious abuse, including torture and other ill-treatment, should she be extradited to Turkmenistan,” Amnesty International’s Julia Hall, Deputy Director for Europe, said. “Turkmenistan is not a safe country for her or any human rights defender.”


Niyazov’s lawyer Lina Budak told local Croatian media that authorities have launched a review process for possible extradition to Turkmenistan.

Croatian police have said they were obliged to respond to an outstanding international warrant against Niyazov.

Amnesty International said Interpol warrants have been “notoriously abused by a number of authoritarian regimes and countries with appalling human rights records to try to silence activists and those who speak out about human rights violations.”

“Croatia should not be complicit in such practices,” said the group’s statement. “Authorities in Zagreb must refuse Turkmenistan’s request for Aysoltan Niyazov’s extradition and immediately release her from detention.”