Thailand sends dissident Russian rock band to Israel


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Members of a Russian rock band protesting the Ukraine war have left Thailand for Israel, a week after authorities threatened to send them back to Moscow for working without permits on the resort island of Phuket. , Band and Thai Band police said.

Human rights activists have warned that seven members of self-exiled rock band BI-2 face harsh punishment if they are deported to Russia.

However, several band members hold both Russian and Israeli citizenship, and the group was based in Israel in the 1990s. Deputy police chief Surchatay Hakparn said the band has requested to be deported to Israel.

He said the band was fined for operating without a permit.

"They all flew to Israel around 11 pm last night," Surchatay told Reuters.

war in israel and gaza

Palestinians line up for free food in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023.  International aid agencies say Gaza is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies as a result of the two-and-a-half month war.  Israel and Hamas.  (AP Photo/Fatima Shabair)

The band also said on their Facebook page that all members have left Thailand and are moving to Tel Aviv.

Bi-2 is known for its condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia's Justice Ministry branded lead singer Igor Bortnik a "foreign agent" last year after he criticized President Vladimir Putin online.

Earlier this week, Thai immigration officials said that if the band felt unsafe returning to Russia they could choose to be deported to another destination.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, welcomed the decision to send the band to Israel.

"Human rights concerns prevailed in Thailand and all BI-2 band members were allowed to travel to the safety of Israel," he said.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,



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