Russian SWIMS 12 miles to Japan to apply for asylum

Russian SWIMS 12 miles to Japan to apply for asylum

  • The refugee swam from the Russian island of Kunashir to the Japanese coast
  • Japanese authorities have not confirmed the Russian asylum seeker’s identity
  • An unnamed source named the man as 38-year-old Vaas Feniks Nokard
  • Nokard was allegedly deported from Japan in 2011 for breaking visa rules
  • Kunashir is part of the Kuril islands, which are still disputed by Russia and Japan 

A Russian man swam 12 miles from the Russian controlled island of Kunashir to the Japanese coastal town Shibetsu on the island of Hokkaido to ask for political asylum on Sunday.

Japanese authorities have not yet provided official confirmation of the Russian asylum seeker’s identity, but an unnamed source close to the investigation named the man as Vaas Feniks Nokard, a 38-year-old native of Izhevsk.

He was detained by Japanese authorities and taken to a police station in Hokkaido where he was interrogated about his journey.

The unnamed source told Russia state-run outlet RIA Novosti: ‘It looks like he got there in a wetsuit. He just crossed the 12 mile-strait by swimming.’ 

Nokard was allegedly deported by Japanese authorities in 2011 for breaking visa rules, and has a track record for forging official documents which saw him deported from Thailand and Bali.

Kunashir island is located around 12 miles off the coast of Hokkaido. The refugee arrived in Shibetsu, a small fishing town on the coast, on Sunday

Kunashir, the closest of the Kuril islands to Japan, is visible off the coast of Hokkaido

The source who revealed the refugee’s identity painted a damning picture of his character.

 ‘He lived in the Kuril Islands for three years, didn’t work anywhere, lived in Golovino [village], slept in a tent or settled with whomever he met,’ they added. 

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said Monday that the government will ‘take appropriate measures’ after confirming the details of the Russian national’s arrival, according to RIA Novosti.

Shibetsu, the location at which the refugee reportedly arrived, is a small fishing town with a population of only a few thousand people and is one of few places left in Japan that is inaccessible by train.

Russian media in 2019 profiled Nokard as a native of Izhevsk, a city in the Urals around 600 miles from Moscow, who moved to the Kurils after receiving free land as part of Russia’s ‘Far Eastern Hectare’ program.

A report by Novaya Gazeta newspaper described Nokard as a man who adored Japanese culture and had attended Japanese language classes to better understand the country’s customs. 

Kunashir is part of the Kuril islands, a small cluster of land which is under Russian control but whose ownership is disputed by Japan

Aerial video shot of Cape Stolbchaty on Kunashir Island at low tide on a sunny day. Free land on the island was given to some Russian citizens as part of a programme to rejuvenate its Far East regions

Authorities in the Yuzhno-Kurilsk region said the refugee had received free land on Kunashir as part of Russia’s programme to rejuvenate its Far East regions.

Kunashir is part of the Kuril islands, a small cluster of land which is under Russian control but whose ownership is disputed by Japan.  

The dispute has prevented the two nations from signing a WWII peace treaty to this day, after the Soviet Union seized the strategically-located islands in the final days of World War II and has maintained a military presence there ever since. 

Russia’s TASS state news agency reported earlier this month that Russia plans to build 51 new pieces of military infrastructure on the Kuril islands, and area in which they have long conducted military training drills.

Russia’s defence ministry reported August 9 they had already erected more than 30 buildings on the islands, including seven living quarters for military servicemen.

Russia’s TASS state news agency reported earlier this month that Russia plans to build 51 new pieces of military infrastructure on the Kuril islands, and area in which they have long conducted military training drills

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