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Serbia Stays Silent About Ban on Russian Anti-war Activist’s Return

Serbian authorities have so far refused to explain why Russian anti-war activist Piotr Nikitin has been denied re-entry to Serbia after returning from a holiday via Germany – and for now remains at Belgrade airport.

Serbia’s Interior Ministry has remained silent about why it banned the return to Serbia of Russian anti-war activist Piotr Nikitin on Thursday.

BIRN asked Ministry about the ban but it did not reply by time of publication, or make any public comment.

Nikitin, who spent a second night at Belgrade Airport, said he will appeal the ban and that, so far, there are no indications that he will be forcibly deported.

“As far as I know, forced deportation is certainly not legally possible without a court decision, and it can only be done in the country from which I came directly, which is Germany,“ Nikitin told BIRN on Friday. “The risk of illegal deportation to Russia of course exists, but I estimate that it is not great,“ he added.

Nikitin said he was asked to take a regular flight back to Frankfurt but is refusing to do so. He has lived in Serbia since 2016 and has both Russian and Dutch citizenship.

The Dutch embassy in Serbia confirmed to BIRN that they are “in regular contact“ with Nikitin and are “following up“ his case.

Nikitin told BIRN that on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, after he landed from Frankfurt – coming back from a vacation – his passport was taken away. Some four hours later he was told to go back to Frankfurt and was given the decision about denied entrance to Serbia. By Friday noon, he had not got his passport back.

According to the ministry decision, issued at the airport around 4am in the morning, Niktin’s entrance was denied because he has “the protective measure of removal, the security measure of expulsion, or ban on entry into the Republic of Serbia in effect”.

Nikitin left Serbia on July 6 and, he said, before that did not have any problems with the Serbian authorities.

His name become known in Serbia mostly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As a member of the group “Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Serbs together against the war“, Nikitin was among the organisers of protests against Russian aggression in Belgrade during 2022.

In October 2022 he founded the Russian Democratic Society, which is working with Russian-speaking diaspora in Serbia.

He has two children from a marriage with Serbian citizen and says that he has permanent residence in Serbia. “I don’t have anywhere else [to go] except for Belgrade, my home is there,” Nikitin told BIRN.

According to Serbia’s Law on Foreigners, right to permanent residence ceases if a person “represents a real and serious threat to public order”, mostly meaning if foreigner is sentenced for criminal acts; if a protective measure of removal or security measure of expulsion of the foreigner was issued to him/her; if foreigner gave false information about his identity or concealed circumstances that were important for deciding on rights in the previous procedure; if “it is established that he has moved out of the Republic of Serbia or that he has continuously resided abroad for more than one year”, or if he or she waived the right to permanent residence.

Source : Balkaninsight