Finland’s supreme court blocks extradition of Russian terrorism suspect to Ukraine

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland will not extradite to Ukraine a Russian man suspected of terrorism in Ukraine, Finland’s supreme court ruled on Friday, citing the risk of inhuman prison conditions in Ukraine.

Russian national Yan Petrovsky was taken into custody by Finnish authorities in August after a Ukrainian court issued an arrest warrant for the man who is suspected of participating in a terrorist organisation in Ukraine, Finnish court documents seen by Reuters showed.

Social media channels linked to Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries said in August that Petrovsky was a top fighter in Rusich, a far-right subunit affiliated to Wagner.

Rusich identified Petrovsky as a founding member and leader of the unit who has been under European Union and United States sanctions since last year.

In Finland, Petrovsky has used the name Voislav Torden, court documents showed.

“The Supreme Court has stated in its opinion today

that the extradition request regarding Torden cannot be agreed to,” the court said in its decision.

It cited an earlier decision by the European Court of Human Rights which found Ukrainian prisons overcrowded and materially deprived over long term, concluding extradition to Ukraine could lead to inhuman and degrading treatment for Petrovsky.

The Ukrainian government was not immediately available to comment.

The court ordered Petrovsky to be released but he was immediately taken into custody by the Finnish Border Guard.

“Following a decision by the chief investigator, we have taken the person into custody … and we are investigating the conditions for his presence in the country,” Deputy Commander Mikko Hirvi of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard told Finnish news agency STT.

Petrovsky, who was previously a resident of Norway, is a long-time far-right activist who helped found Rusich as an explicitly neo-Nazi unit during the opening stages of the conflict in the Donbas in 2014.

Wagner, which has fought for Russia in Ukraine and runs mercenary operations in several African nations, has had sanctions imposed on it by a number of Western countries for alleged atrocities.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)