Russian nationalist applies for asylum in Moscow

Illarions Girss, the leader of Russkaya Zarya (Russian Dawn) pro-Russia group, has applied for political asylum in Russia, Girss confirmed to the LETA news agency Wednesday.

He said he was seeking asylum in Russia because he had was being persecuted in Latvia for his political activities.

"I am a citizen of Latvia but I am being persecuted for my political views and political activities in Latvia. Latvia is my tiny motherland and Russia is my great motherland, therefore in this case Russia seems a much more natural choice,” Girss said.

The asylum procedure in Russia will take three to six months, he said.

"For the purposes of the international law, I will be considered a political refugee and will enjoy the protection of Russia and other countries under the convention relating to the status of refugees,” he said.

Girss said that three ”politically motivated” criminal proceedings against him were under way in Latvia, including the one in Liepaja, south-western Latvia, where he is expected to appear before the court on September 6 for instigating ethnic hatred in an article he published in his Internet blog.

In spring this year Girss left Latvia and moved to Russia. He said at the time that his departure from Latvia did not mean that he was renouncing his views on issues concerning Russians and Latvians and that he will continue to support certain legislative initiatives in Latvia.

The Latvian Security Police in its 2013 annual report named Girss among the key pro-Russia activists in Latvia.

In summer 2015 Girss posted on the Internet a video showing him burning his Latvian passport.

He was a familiar figure at pro-Russia rallies, along with MEP Tatjana Zdanoka and fellow activists including Aleksandrs Gaponenko and Vladimirs Lindermans.

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