IN THE NEWS ~ Lennikov's fate rests with court after plea rejected

PUBLICATION: The Province
DATE: 2009.05.26
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A13
BYLINE: Damian Inwood

Lennikov's fate rests with court after plea rejected

One more bid by former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov to be allowed to stay in Canada was rejected by federal Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan last night.

Lennikov travelled from his Burnaby home to Ottawa yesterday with his wife, Irina, and 17-year-old son, Dmitri, to try to meet with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and plead his case. But Kenney's staff said it's up to Van Loan to decide whether Lennikov can stay.

While Van Loan was travelling to Detroit last night for his first formal border meeting with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a statement from his office did not sound hopeful.

"Mr. Lennikov is inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on security grounds," said Van Loan. "This is a decision upheld by both the immigration division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Federal Court.

"The removal of inadmissible individuals is key to maintaining the integrity of the immigration program and to ensuring fairness of those who come to this country lawfully."

Lennikov and his NDP MP, Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) plan to hold a press conference in Ottawa today.

Julian said Kenney and Van Loan are each passing the buck.

"It's important that [Kenney] meets with the family," he said. "I expect the minister to do the right thing. They are making a decision that will rip the family apart forever."

Lennikov moved to Canada with his family in 1997 and applied for permanent residency. He was ordered deported on June 3 after failing in his bid to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

Lennikov believes he faces torture in Russia because of his KGB links.

He was given a one-week reprieve from his deportation order to see his son's graduation from Byrne Creek Secondary.

Lennikov's application to the Federal Court for a stay of deportation will be heard Thursday.

dinwood@theprovince.com