Bound by Interpol membership Poland detains Ukrainian activist

Ihor Mazur, a Ukrainian veteran of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in Donbas, Eastern Ukraine, has been detained by Polish Border Guards at a Polish-Ukrainian border-crossing, Poland’s Radio Information Agency (IAR) reported.

“In accordance with the applicable provisions, after having received information from Interpol, Poland was obliged to detain the Ukrainian citizen,” said the Polish Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Ewa Suwara.

Bound by Poland’s membership of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), Polish law enforcement stopped Mr Mazur in line with an Interpol arrest warrant issued by Russia, which has been a member of the organisation since September 1990.

“Poland is not the party responsible for issuing the arrest warrant but Russia is,” said Ms Suwara, adding that “the case of the detainee will soon be considered by an independent court based on law provisions and a scrutinous analysis. The Ukrainian consul in Poland has had his contact with the detained individual assured. The detainee has the right of legal defence. Poland remains in contact with Ukrainian counterparts with regards to this matter.”

According to the Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova, Ihor Mazur was detained because the Russian Federation issued an Interpol arrest warrant. Ms Denisova contacted the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry asking it to undertake steps towards setting Mr Mazur free.

For its part, the Ukrainian Interfax-Ukraine News Agency wrote that whether Mr Mazur will be extradited to Russia is to be decided by a court in the Polish city of Chełm on November 11.

Poland’s news website Onet wrote that “Interpol arrest warrants have been a popular stratagem applied by authoritarian regimes against inconvenient individuals. Based on fabricated evidence, regimes usually enter such people in Interpol’s databases. In such cases, other [member] states are obliged to detain these individuals – something that usually occurs at border-crossings.”

The website claims that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration “filed motions to Interpol asked it to put 60,000 people in its databases after the failure of the [July 15/16, 2016] coup. Russia has also been breaking records in terms of the number of people it reported to Interpol.”

A Ukrainian patriot, nationalist and historian, a website providing Polish-language news on events occurring in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic States, described Ihor Mazur as a corporal in the army of Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalist on the one hand and an ardent proponent of the Intermarium, which is a broad concept of an alliance of countries stretched between the Baltic, the Black and the Mediterranean Seas.

“I am a patriot,” Mr Mazur told in November 2017, adding that Poles and Ukrainians are divided by their “histories and Russian propaganda… When Ukrainians go against Poles or vice-versa, it is a win for Moscow… What Russia dreads most is Ukrainian-Polish friendship!”

According to the IAR, Mr Mazur is a member of a nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly – the Ukrainian People's Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO) organisation.