IN THE NEWS ~ Lennikovs plead case in Ottawa

Lennikovs plead case in Ottawa
Burnaby Now
Wed 27 May 2009
Page: 5
Section: News
Byline: Jennifer Moreau
Source: Burnaby Now

A Burnaby family flew to Ottawa in a last-ditch effort to fight a deportation order that will split them apart.

Former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov will be deported June 3 because of his past with the former Soviet Union's secret service.

Under Canadian immigration law, anyone who was part of an organization involved in espionage against a democratic government is not allowed to stay in Canada unless Public Safety Minister Peter van Loan deems they are not detrimental to national interests.

"Our ultimate dream is to stay in Canada as a family ... being contributing members of society," Mikhail said in an Ottawa press conference.

The family was hoping to meet with van Loan and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in hopes he would override the deportation order against the father Mikhail.

The Lennikovs are constituents of Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian, who has been pressuring Kenney to let the family stay. As of press deadlines, Julian was still trying to arrange a meeting with Kenney, and van Loan's office had not responded.

The family applied for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Wife Irina and son Dmitri are allowed to stay in principle, but Mikhail is still facing deportation.

The Lennikovs' plight has garnered media attention from across the country, and local politicians, community members and students have come out to support the family.

Mikhail has argued he is not a threat to Canada; he says he was a reluctant recruit in an organization that was almost impossible to leave. He mostly worked as a translator and was a lieutenant in a section of an office that was responsible for monitoring Japanese businessmen visiting Russia.

For more on this story, visit Jennifer Moreau's blog, Community Conversations, at www.burnabynow.com.

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Former KGB agent in Ottawa
Vancouver Courier
Wed 27 May 2009
Page: 1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Mike Howell
Source: Vancouver Courier

A former KGB agent scheduled to be deported next week is in Ottawa today attempting to meet with the only man who can overturn his deportation order.

Mikhail Lennikov wants to meet with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to argue he is not a threat to Canada and should be allowed to remain in the country with his wife and teenaged son.

Lennikov didn't have an appointment scheduled with Kenney when he spoke to the Courier Monday. But Lennikov said he is being aided by Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian to meet with Kenney. "If we can't meet with him, then probably with somebody from his office," Lennikov said an hour before his flight left from Vancouver International Airport. "It may not look like a bullet-proof idea but it's an act of desperation to show us as real people."

Lennikov was the subject of a Courier cover story published July 18, 2007. At the time, Lennikov worked in the electronics department at the downtown Sears.

Lennikov, who is in his late 40s, moved to Vancouver in 1997 to attend the University of B.C, where he completed a master's degree in contemporary Japanese literature.

He now lives in Burnaby with his wife Irina and son Dmitri, an honour roll student at Byrne Creek secondary, who is set to graduate this Friday.

Lennikov is scheduled to be at the Vancouver airport at 3 a.m. June 3 to be deported. Dmitri and Irina are allowed to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The government wants Lennikov out of the country because it says he was part of an organization engaged in espionage against a democratic government.

From 1983 to 1988, Lennikov was a KGB agent for the old Soviet Union. He worked with informants to gather information on Russian university students.

He used his fluency in Japanese to translate documents obtained from Japanese companies and collected personal information from Japanese businessmen at trade shows. In 1984, he accompanied a Russian governor to Japan on a one-week trip, where he translated for the governor and provided security for him. He also prepared summaries on prospective informants.

That, he told the Courier in 2007, was the extent of his work for the country's feared security agency. He said he wasn't a spy, didn't harm anyone and joined the KGB only because his government forced him to.

Lennikov has never tried to hide his past. Friends, fellow scholars and classmates and teachers of Dmitri have written letters of support to government on behalf of the family.

Numerous NDP MPs and Vancouver-South Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh have also urged the Conservative government to allow Lennikov to remain with his family. "We are a very devoted, very loving family who supports each other and we stick together," Lennikov said Monday. "I keep telling people that's the only reason Dmitri is who he is and we've been able to go through what was sent to us."

Lennikov believes he will be persecuted by Russian authorities if he is returned to his birthplace. The fact that he shared information about the KGB with a Canadian Security Intelligence Services Agency agent is grounds to put him in a Russian jail.

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PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2009.05.27
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A4
BYLINE: Norma Greenaway
DUPLICATES: The Province

Ex-KGB agent, family plead to stay in Canada; Ministers hold ground as fight to stop B.C. father's deportation hits Ottawa

After travelling to the capital from their home in Burnaby, B.C., former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov, his wife and son overcame nerves and shyness Tuesday to plead their case for allowing a loving family to stay together and live in Canada.

The decision to try to meet face-to-face with two federal ministers who could keep the family together was spurred by a June 3 deportation order hanging over Lennikov's head.

"I would be absolutely devastated and heartbroken if he had to leave, because it would be such a crippling blow to the well-being of our family," his son Dmitri, 17, told a news conference.

At one point, Dmitri reached for his mother Irina's hand, as she struggled to keep her composure while talking about her commitment to "give back" to the country the Lennikovs say they have come to love and think of as home.

The shy trio wore their nerves on their sleeves as they told their story in the National Press Theatre.

Lennikov, 48, has been ordered deported because, as a young man, he was recruited to the Russian secret service. Canadian immigration law prohibits spies, or anyone who has engaged in subversive action against a democratic government.

His wife and son were told in March they would be allowed to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. The son is graduating from high school on Friday.

Lennikov has been deemed a security risk because of his KGB background and ordered out.

At the news conference, Lennikov said again he's no threat to Canadians, that he was a reluctant recruit who worked at a low-level clerical and translation job, and that he left the spy agency as soon as he could get out.

The family's quest now is to get Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan or Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to use their power to issue a ministerial permit allowing Lennikov to stay in Canada.

The family and its allies say Lennikov, who got his master's degree at the University of B.C., has been a model citizen for the 11 years he has been in Canada, as have his wife and son. The family's plight has captured media headlines and the hearts of many within and beyond their home community of Burnaby.

The family plans to stay in Ottawa until Thursday, in hopes of securing face time with one or both ministers.

They got little encouragement on the first day of the mission. With the Lennikovs looking down from the public gallery of the House of Commons, Kenney brushed off questions about their predicament from New Democrat Peter Julian.

Kenney accused Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, of trying to "politicize" a case that has gone through the proper channels.

"We do not politicize the cases of inadmissibility that come before the Immigration and Refugee Board, an independent, quasi-judicial body," Kenney said. "There is a legal system in place for these matters to be considered. This particular case has been considered by our courts and by the IRB."