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11 Jan, 2023 21:41

Ex-French soldier requests asylum in Russia – media

Adrien Bocquet previously claimed to have witnessed Ukrainian war crimes and to have survived an assassination attempt by Kiev in Istanbul
Ex-French soldier requests asylum in Russia – media

Former French military serviceman Adrien Bocquet has requested asylum in Russia, RIA Novosti news agency reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed “source familiar with the situation.” He had previously repeatedly traveled to Ukraine and Donbass and claimed that he had witnessed war crimes committed by the Ukrainian forces.

“A former French serviceman, Adrien Bocquet, has approached the Russian authorities and asked them to grant him political asylum,” the source told RIA, adding that the asylum application was supposedly filed in mid-December. The Russian authorities have so far not commented on the development.

Bocquet first traveled to Ukraine as a volunteer delivering humanitarian aid last spring. At the time, he reportedly visited Lviv and Kiev, as well as its suburbs, including Bucha. Kiev accused the Russian forces of committing mass killings of civilians in Bucha, which the Russian troops withdrew from in late March. Moscow has repeatedly denied all of the accusations.

After returning to France in May, Bocquet gave an interview to French Sud Radio, in which he claimed to have witnessed the abuse of Russian POWs at the hands of Ukrainian soldiers. The Frenchman accused the Ukrainian soldiers of torturing and killing civilians and claimed the French media was concealing this. He also said that he himself was detained by the Ukrainian soldiers for ten hours.

Last summer, he began traveling to the Donbass regions controlled by Russian forces and local militias while publishing reports on the situation on the ground on his Telegram channel. There, he wrote that weapons such as Caesar howitzers, which France supplies to Ukraine, end up injuring civilians in Donbass.

In October, Bocquet claimed he was attacked by “militants” linked to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in Istanbul. He also published a photo of himself lying in bed with visible injuries to his face and one hand. The next day, France’s Foreign Ministry published a statement in which it said it had “no information” on the incident.

Bocquet has not commented on his reported asylum application so far.