Ex-banker avoids deportation to Russia due to war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been instrumental in the decision of the Swiss authorities not to deport the ex-banker to Russia, the NZZ am Sonntag said. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The former Russian banker Oleg Schigajew, who has been fighting extradition from Switzerland to Russia on embezzlement charges, can stay in the Alpine country as legal proceedings against him have been stopped.

This content was published on May 8, 2022 minutes
NZZ am Sonntag/sb

On Sunday, the NZZ am Sonntag confirmedExternal link an earlier report by the Gotham City news site that the Federal Office of Justice had stopped extradition proceedings and that Schigajew was no longer subject to restrictions to his freedom of movement.

The former co-owner of the Baltic Bank in St Petersburg is wanted in Russia for allegedly embezzling CHF50 million ($50.5 million). He denies the allegations and says there is no chance of a fair trial in Russia.

He was arrested in September 2021 in Switzerland, where he has been living for several years with his family. The former banker has vehemently opposed his extradition, which the Swiss Federal Court confirmed last autumn. Following his arrest last year, he reportedly stabbed himself in the stomach and had to be treated in hospital. He then went on hunger strikeExternal link until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine earlier this year. This delayed his planned deportation, NZZ said.

War in Ukraine

On Sunday, the NZZ reported that the war in Ukraine had been instrumental in the decision of the Swiss authorities not to deport the ex-banker to Russia.

“With Russia's departure from the Council of Europe, an important institutional framework that guarantees the oversight of human rights will be lost,” the justice office said. “Against this backdrop, Switzerland will suspend legal assistance to Russia until further notice."

As a result, deportations to Russia are in general no longer possible.

Switzerland is striving for “an approach that is coordinated internationally and in particular with the European partner countries”, the office added. “As soon as the situation allows for a reassessment, the Federal Office of Justice, as the supervisory authority, will inform the legal assistance authorities.”

According to a recent report by the NZZExternal link , the suspension of legal assistance affects around 50 requests for legal assistance from Russia to Switzerland and around eight requests from Switzerland to Russia.

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