Death of Russian activist may have followed threats, claims mother

Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 00:00

The mother of a Russian opposition activist, who apparently died by suicide in a Rotterdam deportation unit last week two days after being refused political asylum in the Netherlands, has suggested his death may have followed threats by the Russian secret service.

Alexander Dolmatov (36), an engineer with Russian missile manufacturer KTRV and a member of the Other Russia political party, fled to Holland last June to avoid arrest after anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow were broken up by police.

Mr Dolmatov applied for asylum, saying he feared for his life. He said his parents had warned him the police were looking for him, and he claimed in a telephone interview at the time: “A boss in the defence firm where I work told an Izvestia journalist they will kill me.”

Last Tuesday, Mr Dolmatov was informed that his asylum application had been rejected. The following day, he was moved from his detention centre to a deportation unit, where last Thursday he was found dead – despite the fact that his lawyer was in the process of appealing the asylum decision.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Dutch embassy in Moscow last Friday to lay flowers in Mr Dolmatov’s memory.

Among those present was the leader of the Other Russia, Eduard Limonov, who maintained that Mr Dolmatov had been subjected to persistent intimidation by the authorities, who had searched his flat as soon as he left the country.

Appeal to queen

The dead man’s mother, Ludmilla Doronina, yesterday appealed to Queen Beatrix for help in establishing what exactly had happened to her son.

She said she was seeking the aid of the Dutch monarch “as queen of the Netherlands, but also as a mother of three children”. Ms Doronina said she did not believe her son’s death was “voluntary”.

While she did not accuse the Russian secret service of causing her son’s death, she said she feared he had, at the very least, been threatened by secret service agents as a warning to others who had demonstrated against Russian president Vladimir Putin and then fled abroad.

Mr Dolmatov’s friend, the writer Sergei Shargunov, said he had been “incited to commit suicide”, while his lawyer in Moscow, Evgeny Arkhipov, said he believed Mr Dolmatov had been “coerced” into writing a six-page suicide note found with his body.

The note, addressed to his mother, said: “Please endure this. I am with you and I know you will endure. This is the best option.”

Dutch junior justice minister Fred Teeven last night ordered an investigation into Mr Dolmatov’s death, though he did not reveal why his asylum application had been rejected.

A spokesman for the minister said staff at the deportation centre reported they had not seen any signs that Mr Dolmatov intended to kill himself.