A Russian “anti-war” blogger may be convicted of espionage in Albania

Svetlana Timofeeva, a Russian blogger who was detained in Albania in 2022 on suspicion of spying, has applied for asylum there, claiming that she fears persecution if she is sent to Russia, where she is accused of the same offenses.

Refugee or undercover spy?

Svetlana Timofeeva, a Russian blogger, has applied for political asylum with the Albanian authorities, stating that if she were to be deported, she would be prosecuted for her criticism of Russia’s aggression with Ukraine.

Timofeeva was caught alongside another Russian and a Ukrainian citizen near a former military factory in Gramsh, southern Albania, and is currently being held in jail there. At the same time, she awaits trial on espionage charges.

She goes by the online handle Lana Sator, denies being a spy, and explains that her mishap in Gramsh was related to her work examining abandoned Cold War-era structures. Russia, where she is wanted on similar accusations, has urged Albania to deport her.

Blogging or espionage 

Timofeeva was arrested along with another Russian and a Ukrainian on charges that they broke into the first communist military plant, Gramsh, about 80 kilometers from the Albanian capital, Tirana. During the communist rule in Albania, the Gramsh plant manufactured AK-47 assault rifles using Russian technology. The website of the Ministry of Defense states that the plant currently provides production services for the defense industry.

Albania’s Ministry of Justice previously approved the extradition. Yet, the matter is currently being debated in court.

A few days later, she remarked: “It is getting harder and harder to believe what is happening. The deaths are being concealed, the war is not being termed a war, and the dead are not being displayed.

Timofeeva’s defense attorney emphasized in the motion that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that she could be subjected to “cruel, inhumane treatment” if she is deported to Russia.

Photo: Svetlana Timofeeva at e hearing in the Appeals Court of Durres, Albania. Photo: Vladimir Karaj/BIRN

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