07MOSCOW2197, SLAIN BELARUSIAN JOURNALIST’S SON FLEES TO MOSCOW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2197 2007-05-11 14:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0016
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2197 1311446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111446Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK IMMEDIATE 5408
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0160

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002197 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2017 
TAGS: PREF PHUM RS
SUBJECT: SLAIN BELARUSIAN JOURNALIST'S SON FLEES TO MOSCOW 
 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell. 
Reason 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C) This is an action request.  See paragraphs 6 and 7. 
 
 
2.  (C)  Anton Filimonov, the 17-year-old son of slain 
Belarusian journalist Veronika Cherkasova, has fled to Moscow 
accompanied by Cherkasova's stepfather Vladimir Meleshko. 
Meleshko told REFCOORD that they believed Filimonov was in 
imminent danger in Minsk and left Belarussia on May 9. 
Meleshko said the family had reason to believe that 
Belarusian authorities planned kill to him by "provoking" a 
fistfight that would result in the boy being badly beaten, 
although he offered no further details on the source of that 
information.  He said the family had been repeatedly 
threatened and was under constant surveillance by Belarusian 
authorities over the past several months. 
 
3. (C) Meleshko told us he believes that authorities continue 
to harass the family because of the "explosive" information 
that Cherkasova was able to uncover before she was killed. 
Cherkasova was stabbed numerous times in her Minsk apartment 
on October 20, 2004.  The editor of her paper Solidarnost has 
said he believed that she was killed because of her 
investigation into alleged arms sales by Belarus to Iraq. 
Meleshko said repeatedly that he believes Belarussian 
Government agents killed Cherkasova. 
 
3. (C) Filimonov's father Dmitriy lives in Moscow and works 
as a journalist at the newspaper Izvestiya.  Meleshko said he 
was afraid for the boy to stay with his father because the 
apartment may be under surveillance and Anton easily found 
there.  Anton stayed with his father for two months in 2005 
when he was sought by Belarusian authorities as a suspect in 
his mother's death.  He returned to Minsk in April 2005 after 
authorities announced he was no longer a suspect, but he was 
later charged with and convicted of counterfeiting and given 
a two-and-half year suspended sentence.  Dmitriy Filimonov, 
the father, did not accompany his son and Meleshko to the 
meeting with REFCOORD and it is not clear what his 
relationship with his son might be at this time. 
 
4. (C) REFCOORD explained the possibility of resettlement to 
the U.S., but noted the complexities of this case in light of 
the younger Filimonov's age and the criminal conviction. 
REFCOORD accompanied Meleshko and Filimonov to UNHCR, which 
granted him an immediate interview for refugee status 
determination.  UNHCR officials told us that they have 
scheduled a second interview for May 14. 
 
COMMENT AND ACTION REQUESTS 
--------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Meleshko and Filimonov are visibly worried and 
believe that the threat to Filimonov is serious enough that 
they initially sought protection for him within the Embassy. 
Currently, however, we do not think that such protection is 
warranted in light of his previous stay in Moscow without 
incident.  They are in need of shelter, however, and we are 
working with various human rights groups to find them 
temporary accomodations.  We will continue to follow their 
situation closely. 
 
6.  (C) For the Department:  Should UNHCR refer the case to 
us, we would accept it in keeping with Department policy; 
however, given Filimonov's status as a minor, the presence of 
his father in Moscow, and his previous conviction, we believe 
that this case could not be processed expeditiously.  Should 
there be an actions we should take in the interim, we request 
Department guidance soonest. 
 
7.  (C) For Embassy Minsk:  Post requests Embassy Minsk's 
assessment of Filimonov's current situation in Belarus and 
what threats he may be facing from Belarusian authorities. 
BURNS

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