Vladimir Linderman denied entry to Estonia

Vladimir Linderman, member of the Russian opposition’s proto-parliament, the National Assembly, and deputy chairman of the banned National Bolshevik party (NBP), was denied entry to Estonia on 26 October 2008.

Linderman had arrived by ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, and was to take the bus to Riga. Five to six police officers were waiting for him at the border. The police asked for his passport and escorted him to a room.

The police told Linderman that he was unwanted in Estonia. They informed Linderman that he was declared persona non grata in Estonia in autumn 2002 when a criminal case was brought against him in Latvia.

Linderman explained that a court in Latvia had already acquitted him, and that he was in transit on his way home to Riga. The police said, however, that he would be deported to Finland nevertheless.

Linderman protested, saying he was in Finland to meet political activists. The police chief phoned the Estonian Minister of Interior, Jüri Pihl, who confirmed that Linderman was still persona non grata in Estonia.

Interviewed by telephone in Helsinki, Linderman said he was appalled at the decision of the Estonian authorities to deny him entry. He expressed hope that Finnish politicians would help settle the question of his ban on entering Estonia.

Linderman reminded that some two years ago, another NBP activist was denied entry into Estonia. In that case, Estonian authorities had referred to the decision of the Moscow Regional Court to ban NBP in Russia.

Linderman said he did not expect any trouble in returning to Latvia, where he has permanent residence status. In order to return to Riga, he will apparently have to take the plane from Finland.

Background: Vladimir Linderman

Vladimir Linderman, b. 1958, is a columnist and leading member of the Russian opposition. He is one of the ideologues of the Other Russia coalition. He was head of the NBP’s branch in Latvia. Linderman’s family lives in Riga.

In 2001, Linderman had travelled to Russia to testify in the criminal case brought against NBP leader Eduard Limonov, who was accused in a court in Saratov of undermining Russia’s constitutional order, establishing a criminal group, and illegal posession of firearms.

At the same time that Linderman was in Russia, Latvian special services conducted searches in the flats of members of the Pobeda (Victory) society and its offices. The organisation, of which Linderman was the chairman, supported the rights of Latvia’s non-Latvian residents.

Criminal charges of undermining Latvia’s constitutional order, illegal possession of explosives, and attempt at the life of the President of Latvia were brought against Linderman and three of his party comrades, Artur Petrov, Olga Morozova, and Raimonds Krumgolds.

All charges against the other three were dropped, however, and they were released in late 2003. The three had no problems with the Latvian authorities. The charges against Linderman were, nevertheless, not lifted for reasons that remained unclear.

While NBP leader Limonov was serving his sentence, Linderman was acting as the driving force of the National Bolshevik Party. Under his influence, the party moved away from collectivist ideology towards social-democracy.

NBP’s right wing, lead by Alexander Dugin, broke off or were expelled from the party. When Limonov was released from prison, having served 2/3 of his sentence, he stood by Linderman. Dugin then established the Eurasia Movement, which is close to the Kremlin.

Latvia requested that Russia extradite Linderman to Latvia after the criminal case had been brought against him in Latvia. He was also placed on Interpol’s wanted list. Linderman applied for asylum in Russia, but was refused.

It turned out that his refugee status was to have been conditional on his refusal to take part in political activities. All of Linderman’s attempts to get official residence status in Russia failed.

On 21 June 2006, he was detained and a court decided to deport him as an illegal alien. However, Linderman managed to flee from police custody and went into hiding. He was arrested on 29 February 2008 when he went out for shopping.

Russian authorities deported him to Latvia, where he was brought to trial on charges on attempting to overthrow the government, assassinate the President of Latvia, and illegal possession of explosives.

A court of first instance dropped all charges on Linderman, but Latvia’s Supreme Court found him guilty of illegal possession of explosives and gave him a one-year suspended sentence. Linderman has appealed the sentence.

Interview: Vladimir Linderman [2008-10-26]

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