IN THE NEWS ~ Ukrainian group hires investigator to watch former KGB officer taking asylum in church
December 16th, 2011 - 2:51pm
|Published | Publié: 2011-10-15
Received | Reçu: 2011-12-16 10:51 AM
|VANCOUVER SUN (FINAL)
WESTCOAST NEWS, Page: A5
Ukrainian group hires investigator to watch former KGB officer taking asylum in church
Man has been living there for 28 months, but group says border officials should arrest him
Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun
The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced Friday it has hired a private investigator to put former KGB officer Mikhail Lennikov under surveillance in Vancouver.
Lennikov has been living in the sanctuary of First Lutheran Church in east Vancouver for the last 28 months, after immigration officials declared him a threat to national security and denied his application to stay in Canada.
He was scheduled to be deported on June 3, 2009, but instead sought sanctuary a day earlier in the church at the corner of 42nd and Wales.
Lubomyr Luciuk, the Ukrainian association's director of research, said Friday that members of his group are fed up that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has not enforced the law and removed Lennikov from Canada.
"They know where this guy is and they haven't touched him," he said, adding Lennikov has been found to be inadmissible in Canada.
So the Ukrainian association recently decided at its annual general meeting to hire a private investigator to watch the church, he said.
"If he leaves the church, he will be reported to CBSA," Luciuk said. "If not, he may spend the rest of his life in the church."
The association began a postcard campaign last year, urging federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the Conservative government to enforce that law and remove Lennikov.
Although the CBSA has traditionally been reluctant to arrest those seeking asylum in churches, they do have that right, Luciuk said.
Luciuk said he is a reluctant critic of the federal government, since Luciuk is a Tory and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to receive the Shevchenko Medal on Friday. It's the highest form of recognition granted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to honour people for their outstanding national contribution to the development of the Ukrainian community in Canada.
Luciuk, a former member of the federal Immigration and Refugee Board, said his group has nothing against Lennikov personally, but the law states that former members of the Russian secret police are inadmissible to Canada.
"We're not against refugees," he said. "Many of our parents were refugees from communism."
He also said that Lennikov has not publicly apologized for being a member of the KGB, which had a notorious reputation in Ukraine during Soviet Communist rule, which ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Luciuk said that if Lennikov apologized, his group may accept it and drop its campaign, leaving the matter to Ottawa.
Lennikov, 51, whose wife and son live in the Vancouver area and continue visiting him at the church, was not available for an interview.
He came to Canada in 1997 on a student visa and obtained a degree from the University of B.C.
Initially, he did not state he had been a member of the Soviet secret police. Lennikov said in an earlier interview that the original immigration form he filled out did not ask if he had any military service.
He only revealed he had been a KGB officer when he applied in 1999 to bring his wife, Irina, and son, Dmitri, to Canada. His wife and son were given permission to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.
Lennikov maintains he was a reluctant recruit, hired by the KGB because he spoke Japanese, and did mostly translation and clerical work from 1983 to 1988.
He was dismissed in 1988 as being incapable of service after he wrote a report explaining how he was not suitable for the KGB. He went to live in Japan in 1995.
A number of local politicians, including former MP Ujjal Dosanjh and current MPs Don Davies and Peter Julian, have insisted Lennikov poses no risk.
firstname.lastname@example.org ILLUS: Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun Files / Former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov took sanctuary in First Lutheran Church in Vancouver 28 months ago.;