Alexey Alchin, a Russian nationalist living in Varna (Bulgaria) for the past eight years and running a stable business in Bulgaria, protested against Putin’s war in Ukraine by publicly burning his Russian passport on 24 February, two days after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Immediately after a few days, Russian authorities accused him of large-scale tax evasion. Russia requested Bulgaria for Alchin’s extradition, and the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office quickly moved the case to court.
Alchin and his wife, Olga Gyurova, said the Russian request was politically motivated.
In early August, the Varna District Court decided that Alchin should be handed over to Russia. He was kept in custody for some days. The Appellate Court’s final decision was expected to confirm Alchin’s extradition to Russia.
If Bulgaria hands over Alchin to Russia, it will make Bulgaria the first European country to extradite a suspect to Russia since President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine six months ago.
Analysts warned that the extradition of Alchin would help Russia internationalize his unprecedented crackdown on dissent amid an unprovoked war in Ukraine that has killed thousands of people and sparked Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II and the global economic fallout.
However, on Thursday, the court overturned their decision. The decision followed large-scale public protests against Alchin’s extradition in Sofia, Varna and other Bulgarian cities in the Western press. Alchin is finally free.
Alchin rejected the charges of large-scale tax evasion. He said he did not remember any case against him when he left Russia.
Alchin’s wife, Olga Gyurova, said.” The only thing we rely on is that we are Bulgaria, a European country. The decision will be based on the European system of values.”
A Bulgarian judge said that” she was not surprised by the decision taken in Varna district court because, in her words, Bulgarian courts make decisions based on documents, not on beliefs”.