“It’s unconstitutional to extradite Russians”

Dmitri Alperovitch tweeted an oft-given and somewhat misleading statement that was picked up in a new article:

It’s unconstitutional to extradite Russians.

While technically (Article 61) might say it’s unconstitutional, it nonetheless has been done successfully multiple times:

  • 2014 Seleznev extradited from Maldives
  • 2017 Levashov extradited from Spain
  • 2018 Nikulin extradited from Czechia
  • 2019 Burkov extradited from Israel

There’s another wrinkle to the concept of constitutionality. When a Russian is nabbed in transit (via Red Notice, which currently publicly lists 2,979 Russians — nearly 60,000 notices are secret) …Russia rushes to file charges in order to “extradite” its own citizens.

A “pre-emptive” extradition request by Russia is intended prevent those charged elsewhere with crimes from being extradited for foreign prosecution, but it still proves the point that extradition happens.

Israel denied Russia’s extradition request for Burkov, for example, which is a single case that shows both Russia and the US recognized extradition as a viable negotiation platform.

A similar case was in 2005 when Yevgeny Adamov faced requests for extradition out of Switzerland by both Russia and the US. Unlike Burkov he was extradited by Russia, then tried and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail… released after two months with a suspended sentence.

Yes, you read that right. Russians extradite their own citizens into Russia for criminal prosecution, thus proving claims of “unconstitutional” misleading at best.

Perhaps “The Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press” reported it best way back in 2007 (page 4):

Mr. Miliband does not consider valid the Russian argument that the extradition of Russian citizens is prohibited by Russia’s Constitution. “That is true, but there have been numerous instances in which, in similar situations, countries have amended their constitutions to allow the extradition of criminals to the countries where their crimes were committed,” he said.

Alperovitch thus seems to have tweeted out a shallow talking point, and a reporter ran it without question or thinking about the context for the source.

I’ve pointed out a problem with such unqualified hot-takes before. Here is one of the more cringe-worthy and untrue statements that Alperovitch pushed into the press:

North Korea is one of the few countries that doesn’t have a real animal as a national animal…Which, I think, tells you a lot about the country itself.

That’s just obviously false. Many countries have a fake national animal, including Russia. Everyone surely knows Wales has its red dragon, Scotland a unicorn, England another dragon and Russia flies a double-headed eagle crest pretty much everywhere… the list goes on and on.

It’s always been a puzzle to me why Alperovitch comes across sounding so confident on these cultural and political issues that obviously he has not thoroughly researched.

Perhaps I can say it is like when he announced his new company named after a famous gay strip bar in Portland: Silverado.

Not what I was expecting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.