Europe

Russian 'Putin mask' activist claims asylum in Ukraine

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Media captionRoman Roslovtsev was trying to prove how difficult it was to protest in Russia

Ukrainian authorities say a Russian opposition activist has requested asylum in the country.

Roman Roslovtsev, known for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Putin mask, crossed into Ukraine from Belarus.

He told local television he was seeking asylum because of persecution by the Russian security service.

Ukraine's border agency said that an application for asylum was being reviewed by migration authorities.

The agency published a statement which did not name Mr Roslovtsev, but said a "famous Russian writer and public figure" known for protest activities had applied for asylum.

Image caption Mr Roslovtsev has repeatedly protested against a Russian law that allows people breaking protest laws to be jailed
Image caption He served 20 days in police custody for wearing a T-shirt stating "I'm not afraid of Article 212.1"

Mr Roslovtsev, 36, has been detained as least nine times by Russian authorities after walking in Moscow's Red Square in his Putin mask.

Watch a BBC Our World documentary featuring Roman Roslovtsev (UK only)

Authorities say his actions breach Russian protest laws. Mr Roslovtsev says he is protesting over the exact laws which are cited in his arrests, which he describes as "absurd".

Born and raised in Moscow, he trained as an accountant before choosing to protest against Russia's actions in Ukraine.

He was filmed by the BBC this year protesting against Article 212.1 - a controversial Russian statute which allows people who breach protest laws to be jailed for up to five years.

After 20 days in police custody he said the time had not been pleasant, "but if their aim is to stop me protesting, they've achieved the total opposite".

Moscow remains at odds with Kiev following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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