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22 Jun, 2010 02:04

Interpol's most wanted flock to UK

Maksim Bakiyev, son of the ousted president of Kyrgyzstan, is the latest arrival on the conveyor belt bringing the rich and powerful to the shores of Britain seeking asylum.

Back in Kyrgyzstan, Bakiyev is wanted on charges of embezzlement and inciting unrest that, by some estimates, has killed nearly two thousand people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

English courts must view Maksim Bakiyev as an international terrorist,” said Edil Baisalov, former chief to staff of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government. “He has the money. He has the resources. He has the will. He has the ability to destroy the state of Kyrgyzstan.”

On June 13 Bakiyev fled to the UK on a private jet, joining the ranks of the rich and powerful people on Interpol’s wanted list who have sought asylum in the country.

In 2003, alleged Chechen terrorist Ahmed Zakayev was granted political refuge. The same year, asylum was granted to Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, whose case took two years and severely damaged Russia’s relationship with the UK. Berezovsky later claimed he was trying to overthrow the Russian government using the UK as his base. While mobile phone tycoon Evgeny Chichvarkin, whose asylum case is still pending, is wanted in Russia for kidnapping and extortion.

They obviously hope that legal procrastination will make it possible for Maksim Bakiev to stay there just like Zakayev, Berezovsky, Chichvarkin and others, being officially under investigation but not being extradited,” said Felix Kulov, former Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan. “He obviously hopes that good lawyers will help him legalize himself in Great Britain.”

Incidentally, Maksim Bakiyev, who met Boris Berezovsky in 2006, has hired the same law firm that represented Berezovsky in his extradition cases with Russia. The law firm – Carter Ruck – has refused to comment any further than a statement they had released.

Mr. Bakyiev was screened in accordance with normal procedures for port of entry asylum claims, and then granted temporary admission pending the consideration of his claim,” the statement read.

Legally, those who apply for asylum in the European Union must do so in their nearest EU country. For Russians and Central Asians, it is decidedly not the UK.

I think they see it as a safe haven. Because they know that with the right amount of money and the right connections they can escape justice,” suggested Carlos Cortiglia, London spokesperson for the British National Party. “And I think that’s a very bad thing for Britain, because it damages our reputation abroad, it does no favours whatsoever to our image in terms of immigration and the laws of the country.”

Bakiyev has recently submitted his request for asylum, and he will also have to fight extradition to Kyrgyzstan – a process which is tipped to take six months or longer. In the meantime, he will be permitted to remain in the UK.