Oleg Kashin is a correspondent and columnist for the magazine Russian Life. This article was translated by Steven Seymour from the Russian.
LAST week, Alexander Dolmatov, an activist in a political party opposed to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, committed suicide at a detention center in the Netherlands. He had fled Russia last June, hoping to be granted political asylum. When his application was denied, he took his life — the only way to guarantee that he would not be deported home and, most likely, face time in prison.
A Dutch official said “the asylum denial is not the reason for his suicide,” citing a note Mr. Dolmatov, who was 36, left behind. In that note, which Mr. Dolmatov’s mother shared with me, he expressed regret for “having brought shame on everybody.” However, his lawyer has said that Mr. Dolmatov might have written the note under duress. Mr. Dolmatov’s mother has asked the Dutch government for an investigation.
Mr. Dolmatov’s case is only the latest example of the fallout of 2011-12 protests against the Putin regime. It raises questions about concern for human rights in the West, which once sheltered numerous defectors from the Soviet Union but is now less hospitable to dissidents. Instead of Western Europe, America and Israel, today’s dissidents are seeking refuge in former Soviet republics — though their safety is not guaranteed there....