Chechens, citizens of Russia, who are trying to reach the European Union (EU) increasingly use Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as a transit country.
While in previous years they tried to reach EU territory via Belarus and later Poland, in recent months they have been fleeing because of the war in Ukraine and the fear of mobilization.
On December 29th, entry to BiH was refused to a group of Russian citizens from Chechnya and Ingushetia, and they were returned to Istanbul from the Sarajevo airport.
They arrived in BiH a day earlier, their documents were taken away and they, including small children, were kept imprisoned for almost the entire day.
The Border Police of BiH explained that it was established that these persons “abuse the visa-free regime of BiH and Russia” and that they do not meet the conditions for entering the country.
Three days earlier, on December 27th, a group of about thirty Chechens stayed at the Maljevac border crossing between BiH and Croatia. They told that their goal is to enter Croatia and seek political asylum.
Problems on the new route
Due to the fear of mobilization, Chechens with their families are fleeing in large numbers to Kazakhstan, Georgia, and the EU.
But, fleeing mobilization is not a legal basis for obtaining political asylum in any of these countries, which is why activists fear that Chechens will not be able to obtain residence permits – and deportations are possible.
Chechens who wanted to enter Croatia via Maljevac last week, according to the BiH Ministry of Security, entered the country legally and their number is “controlled”. The Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs said that no one who requested international protection was denied entry into the country.
Pressures in Chechnya
Although the mobilization in the Russian Federation officially ended on November 1st, there are still reports of the forced recruitment of Chechen residents for the war in Ukraine, writes Kavkaz.Realii.
After dozens of Chechens were killed in shelling in the Kherson region on October 24th, the country’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov took to Telegram and proposed a dramatic increase in the number of people for the war in Ukraine.
Then he said that Chechnya has 1.6 million people and that at least 300 or 400 thousand can be sent to war, RSE reports.