Conflicts & War

Colombian to be flown home after arrest in Russia on protest charges

Bogota, Mar 7 (EFE).- A Colombian citizen arrested in Moscow for allegedly protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been released and will be flown back to his homeland, that South American nation’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday.

Julian Andres Molina, 19, was arrested on Sunday for breaking a new law enacted on March 4 that bans protests against Moscow’s so-called “special military operation,” Russian authorities said.

The Andean nation’s Foreign Ministry offered its assistance, while its ambassador to Russia, Hector Arenas, got in touch with the young man and worked with local authorities to secure his release, Colombian officials said.

Molina was released on Monday afternoon and the ambassador accompanied him to the Moscow airport, where he is to board a flight back to Colombia.

The Colombian had been studying in Russia but due to increased tensions surrounding the invasion he decided to cut his stay short and went to Moscow to catch his flight home.

Molina said he was arrested after taking a photo of the historic Bolshoi Theatre on his way back to a metro station.

“Two police officers pushed me from the back and led me to a van,” where they confiscated his cellphone, suitcase and passport and drove him to a police station, he told Colombian newscast Noticias Caracol.

Molina was arrested for taking part in an illegal demonstration even though he insisted he was not protesting and was only sightseeing in that area of the capital, where large-scale rallies against the invasion and arrests of hundreds of demonstrators occurred on Sunday.

After spending the night in a police lockup, Molina attended a court hearing in which he was fined nearly 10,000 rubles ($65).

Despite the fine, Molina will be allowed to return to Russia and continue his studies once the crisis in that part of the world has subsided.

Of the 293 Colombians registered as residing in Ukraine, 261 have left that country since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24 and 12 others are in the process of evacuating, according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry’s latest figures.

Ten Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador) are working jointly on a consular cooperation mechanism aimed at ensuring the evacuation of their respective citizens from Ukraine. EFE


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