To avoid being drafted, they flee to Korea: ‘prisoners’ in the duty free
Five Russians, who fled the partial mobilization ordered by Putin for the war in Ukraine, have been stranded for months, awaiting refugee status, at the Seoul-Incheon international airport. Their story is told by CNN, which interviewed the lawyer Lee Jong-chan.
According to the lawyer, three Russians arrived at the airport last October and two in November. After the South Korean Ministry of Justice rejected their application for refugee status, the five found themselves stuck in the departure hall of the airport, awaiting the appeal ruling.
“They are provided with one meal a day, lunch, and for the rest of the day they live on bread and drink. They can take a shower but have to wash their clothes by hand and cannot leave the departure and duty-free areas,” he said. stated Lee. “They have limited access to medical care but no support for their mental health, which is important considering their precarious situation,” she added.
A press release issued last month by a South Korean human rights group asked the government to grant their applications on the basis that the five Russians refuse to become an “instrument of murder” and if they return to home, “they are very likely to be arrested or forcibly drafted”.
The Ministry of Justice of South Korea, a country where conscription is compulsory, rejected their applications as “not deserving of evaluation”, on the basis that the refusal of conscription “is not a reason for the recognition of refugee,” according to Lee. The lawyer, however, argues that the decision not to do military service “should be recognized as a political motivation” considering the international condemnation of the war in Ukraine.
The five Russians have appealed the decision and the sentence for three of them is expected on January 31st. The judge will have to determine if their case is “worthy of consideration”. In the event of a ruling in their favour, the Ministry of Justice will have to examine their applications.