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Kalmyk activist who fled Russia unable to enter Mongolia due to expired passport

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This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A leading Kalmyk activist who says he may face persecution if he is deported to Russia has not been allowed to enter Mongolia over his expired Russian passport.

Batyr Boromangnaev, who is deputy of Kalmyk’s self-governing Congress of the Oirat-Kalmyk people and former leader of the Yabloko party’s branch in Kalmykia, is currently stuck at immigration services in Ulan Bator’s international airport.

He told RFE/RL on February 28 that his passport expired while he was temporarily detained in Kazakhstan, which he passed through en route to Mongolia.

According to Boromangnaev, Mongol authorities tried to deport him to Kazakhstan, the last country he was in before arriving in Mongolia, but the move was postponed until March 2 after he filed a request addressed to Mongolia’s chief of the Border Guard Service not to deport him.

“Formally, the border guarding service officers are carrying out their duties and act in accordance with the regulations, but they in fact are trying to remove from the country a person who may face persecution on politically motivated charges,” Boromangnaev told RFE/RL.

“I thought I was going to the cradle of the Mongol people, to a democratic country, where my situation would be fully understood,” he added.

The Congress of the Oirat-Kalmyk people has regularly coordinated Kalmyk activists’ congresses in Russia’s Republic of Kalmykia near the North Caucasus region since 2015.

After Russia launched its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, most of the group’s members fled the country.

In October 2022, Boromangnaev’s group published a declaration on Kalmykia’s independence from Russia.

The influx of Russian citizens, mostly of Kalmyk, Buryat, and Tyvan origin, to Mongolia has dramatically increased since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization to support the war in Ukraine in late September last year.

Kalmyks in Russia’s southwest and Buryats in Siberia are mostly Buddhist, Mongol-speaking ethnic groups. Tyvans are another mostly Buddhist indigenous people in Siberia, whose language is Turkic.