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Russian Defector on Verge of Deportation from the US

Written by Rutherford

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September 11, 2008
Rutherford Urges President Bush, Va. Senators & Rep. Goode to Intervene on Behalf of Russian Immigrant Denied Political Asylum, Awaiting Deportation
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. —Gennady Denisenko, a Virginia resident who has lived in the United States since defecting from the Soviet Union in 1991, is now on the verge of being deported to Russia. Speaking out on behalf of Denisenko, John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is calling for an investigation into Denisenko's pending deportation and request for political asylum.

In a letter to President George W. Bush, Senators John Warner and Jim Webb and Congressman Virgil Goode, Whitehead points out that the increasing instability in Russia as a result of the conflict in the Georgian Republic has given rise to increased anti-American sentiment in Russia. In light of this, Gennady, as a defector to the United States, may well be viewed as a traitor and subject to punitive retribution, especially given his much-publicized views following his defection about the need for Russian democracy. A copy of the letter to President Bush is available here.

"This country was founded as a refuge for those seeking religious and political freedom," stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "For the sake of the thousands of persecuted souls who have sought and found refuge in America's welcoming arms, it is our hope that Gennady Denisenko will be granted clemency in this matter and allowed to remain in the country that he has long praised for the value it places on freedom."

A former prosecuting attorney representing the Soviet government in his hometown of Krasnodar, Gennady Denisenko reportedly drew the ire of local politicos by trying to practice law independent of communist dogma. He was also a vocal proponent of democracy. Consequently, he was tagged by the KGB, stripped of his right to practice law and imprisoned in a labor camp in Siberia for several years. Denisenko converted to Christianity following his release from the labor camp. Like so many of his time, he fled his native land because he feared his political and religious beliefs would result in further reprisals by the repressive Soviet regime.

Aided by an American family, Gennady defected to the United States in 1991, seeking political asylum. Unfortunately, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Denisenko's request for asylum was rejected by the United States government, which cited a failure to show exceptional circumstances. Gennady's subsequent efforts to pursue all avenues available to him, including a request to have his asylum application be reopened and/or have his immigration status adjusted in light of his marriage to a U.S. citizen, have been to no avail.

Indeed, they came to an abrupt halt in April 2008 when the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) requested that Gennady and Melinda Denisenko appear at an office in Northern Virginia to finalize their pending status adjustment application. However, when the Denisenkos arrived for their appointment, INS agents seized and handcuffed Gennady. He has been in INS custody, imprisoned in Texas, since then.

At this point, Gennady's last remaining legal recourse is to have his case reopened with the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has blocked this relief, refusing their consent to have the Board of Immigration Appeals re-open the case, allegedly due to a Virginia misdemeanor conviction over a driver's license application.
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The Rutherford Institute is an international, nonprofit civil liberties organization committed to defending constitutional and human rights. Information about the Institute and its ongoing efforts to defend religious freedom is available at www.rutherford.org. (c) 2008 The Rutherford Institute

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