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Spain shelves pro-Russia Ukraine blogger’s extradition

A Spanish court has closed an extradition case against a high-profile pro-Russia Ukrainian blogger wanted by Kyiv on grounds it didn’t receive Ukraine’s extradition paperwork in time, court documents showed.

Anatoly Shariy, who is wanted by Kyiv for “high treason” and incitement to hatred, was detained on May 4 in Tarragona near Barcelona by police holding an international arrest warrant.

He was questioned by a judge who ordered his provisional release but banned him from leaving Spain and retained his passport while the extradition request was being considered.

On September 26, a Madrid court agreed to archive the case on grounds that Shariy “was no longer in Spain” and had “gone to Italy”, court documents showed.

However, in a fresh ruling dated October 11 and seen by AFP on Thursday, the court said although it had been informed that Shariy was still Spain, it was closing the case as it had not received the extradition paperwork from Kyiv.

“Even if it is accepted that the defendant is in Spain… the fact is that the second deadline has been exceeded and the extradition request and the relevant documentation have not been received,” it said.

“Therefore, there is no other solution than to archive the case.”

Kyiv considers Shariy to be a “propagandist” with its SBU security service saying they believe he “carried out unlawful activity detrimental to Ukraine’s national security in the information sphere” and “acted on orders of foreign bodies”.

A vocal critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his pro-Western government, Shariy began his career as an investigative journalist whose reports sparked a backlash.

In July 2011, unknown assailants opened fire on his car while he was sitting in it in Kyiv.

He fled to Lithuania in 2012 where he was granted political asylum on the grounds he was being persecuted for his journalistic work. Lithuania revoked his asylum last year.

Shariy has taken an especially pro-Russian stance since a 2014 uprising in Ukraine which paved the way for a pro-Western government to take power.

In 2019 he registered a political party called “The Party of Shariy” which won a few dozen seats in regional assemblies the following year.

The party was banned along with several pro-Russian factions by Ukraine’s national security council in March following the Ukraine invasion.

Shariy has a YouTube channel with some three million followers and also runs a popular news site called sharij.net.