Child to be left without mother as Sweden is set to deport Russian activist

The 14-month-old son of Dzmitry Plaks and Liza Aleksandrova-Zorina / archive

"I do not connect this situation with Russia's war against Ukraine, but rather with the extremely low level of professionalism of the Swedish migration office," Belarusian writer, playwright and radio producer Dzmitry Plaks, who has been living in Sweden and is a citizen of this country for many years, told Euroradio.

On November 14, it emerged that his wife, Liza Alexandrova-Zorina, had been denied a Swedish residence permit for the family reunion. Now she faces deportation, but her 14-month-old son Maximilian, who has Swedish citizenship, can stay with his father. So much for a "humane" decision.
 

Liza Alexandrova-Zorina / Wikipedia

Liza is a well-known journalist and writer in Russia and Sweden who is not afraid to critisize Putin's regime. She tells her readers how the dictatorship in her homeland suppressed freedom of speech for years and used the covid crisis to intensify its surveillance of people.

In early 2022, Liza said that Putin was ready to enter Ukraine to stay in power, and she was not mistaken. She had been taking part in political protests since 2014.

She also worked for a human rights organization, which is now banned in Russia. At home, the dissident will face a jail sentence. Just for spreading information about the war in Ukraine she can get up to fifteen years in prison.

"Russian dissidents are a decisive force. From them, we can understand what is happening in the country; they poke holes in the wall that Putin is building," the Swedish publication Sydsvenskan reacts to the situation. "If Sweden is ready to send a prominent journalist who criticizes the regime straight into the jaws of the lion, this sends some strange signals."

They also say that the writer can reapply to the migration bureau, but only from Russia because that is the law. Were Liza and her husband informed of this a year and a half ago when they launched the procedure?
 

"Back in February, mind you, of 2021, knowing what body I was dealing with, I sent all the required documents there," Dzmitry Plaks answers the question. "I did it twice - by mail and e-mail. Subsequently, I contacted the bureau again to find out whether they had received all the necessary papers, whether they were on time, and whether any additional payment was required. After a pause, I was told everything was fine, and no additional payments were required. I also sent the documents that concerned my income. I attached to the application a certificate from the Child Protection Center, where they evaluated Maximilian's situation based on the best interests of the child. We also described my wife's work as that of a critical journalist and human rights activist from Russia, where she was imprisoned and persecuted. I should add that Liza did not ask for political asylum. Here we talk about family reunification. We are married, and we have a child together. I am a Swedish citizen, our child was born in Sweden".

It is unclear why, but only a year and a half after the application, officials wrote in a 22-page document that they could not verify the identity of Liza Alexandrova-Zorina from the copy of her Russian passport that they themselves had requested. They also said that there was no information about the family's living conditions when they applied, although Dzmitry assured Euroradio that he had submitted these documents.

According to the decision of the migration bureau, the woman must leave Sweden four weeks after the letter, dated November 8. The family received the letter only on November 14, which means that there is even less time to pack or try to argue with the officials.

Dzmitry Plaks and his wife, Liza Aleksandrova-Zorina, hope the publicity will help draw attention to their problem and the Swedish Migration Board will reconsider its decision. It's not just about the danger awaiting the dissident in Russia. "Many people here now resent the situation that a 14-month-old baby is left without a mother," Dzmitry said.

In 2019, Dzmitry Plaks lost his eldest son Peter. The boy was killed with an axe on the seashore of Sweden. The 16-year-old died despite the efforts of doctors. Employees of the Swedish migration bureau know the story. Only the family helped the respected writer, playwright and radio producer get back on his feet after the incident. 

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