Croatia Detains Member Of Russian Pussy Riot Protest Group At Turkmenistan's Request

Croatian police have detained a member of the Russian Pussy Riot protest group, Aisoltan Niyazova, on a request made by Turkmenistan through Interpol.

Olga Borisova, a member of the protest group, wrote on Facebook on May 31 that Niyazova, who holds Russian and Turkmen passports, was arrested as the group entered Croatia from neighboring Slovenia.

The group is on its Riot Days tour in Europe to protest against Russia's war in Ukraine.

A Croatian court is now expected to decide on Niyazova's possible extradition.

Last week, Niyazova was briefly arrested in Slovenia on the same order by Interpol, which was originally filed by Turkmenistan in 2002.

Turkmen authorities have accused Niyazova of stealing $40 million from the extremely isolated and authoritarian Central Asian country's central bank.

Niyazova and her supporters have rejected the accusation as fabricated and politically motivated, saying the case was trumped up after Niyazova's father joined the political opposition, was arrested, and died in prison.

Amnesty International in a June 1 statement called on the Croatian authorities to release Niyazova, saying that they know that Niyazova's "activism would put her at great risk of suffering serious abuse, including torture and other ill-treatment, should she be extradited to Turkmenistan."

"Turkmenistan is not a safe country for her or any human rights defender," Amnesty's deputy director for Europe, Julia Hall, said, adding that "Interpol warrants have been notoriously abused by a number of authoritarian regimes and countries with appalling human rights records to try to silence activists and those who speak out about human rights violations."

Hall's statement said international law required Croatia not to return or extradite any person to a country where they would face a risk of serious human rights violations.

"The authorities in Zagreb must refuse Turkmenistan's request for [Niyazova's] extradition and immediately release her from detention," Hall said.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service,, and Vecernji List