Exclusive: Local Grandfather Being Held as Political Prisoner in Ukraine
It’s a local story that reads more like a political thriller.
The family of a former minister of Tajikistan says their beloved dad departed on a business trip to Ukraine and never came home.
That, was over six weeks ago.
“It will destroy me and my family, it will destroy us,” says daughter Nigina Abdulladjanova.
A desperate plea from a devastated daughter.
“I see fear in his eyes,” Abdulladjanova says.
The family of 64 year Abdumalik Abdullajanov says these images of a defeated and tired man are a far cry from the father who departed Los Angeles, February 4th, on his way to Ukraine for what was to be a simple business trip.
“He thought maybe they had forgotten him it had been 16 years, but they were waiting for him,” Abdulladjanova says.
16 years ago, the former prime minister fled his country of Tajikistan, a region north of Afghanistan, known for drug smuggling and corruption, after he was put on the international most wanted list for war crimes.
“The things they accuse him of — they are looking for someone new to blame, Abdulladjanova says.
According to court documents, Abdullajanov is accused of attempting to assassinate his former political opponent, Emomalii Rahmon, the current president of Tajikistan.
“That’s where I come from, I’m happy I’m not there.”
The grandfather was granted political asylum here in the US where the family insist they have been living peacefully for over a decade until this fateful business trip over six weeks ago.
“He says they will not keep me alive, they will kill me,” Abdulladjanova says.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, he is being held in Ukraine while Tajikistan has requested extradition … a move the family believes will be his last.
“If Ukraine extradites him they will kill him,” Abdulladjanova fears.
But it’s not just her father’s life that could be in danger … frightened, Niginia translates a vulgar and threatening voice mail from a mysterious man.
“Basically a threat to my dad’s partner his wife and kids will be killed, Abdulladjanova says.
KTLA contacted the State Department, who refused to comment due to privacy issues … but Nigina insist on speaking out about Abdullajanov’s innocence.
“If he goes back I can’t even imagine what they will do to him,” Abdulladjanova says.
Because — if they stay silent, they fear they will never see their father or grandfather again.
In a hearing today – the judge ruled that Ukraine will hold Abdullajanov for another 12-months while they investigate Tajikistan’s extradition request.
Another twist – he is not a Tajik or Ukranian citizen so neither country has a right to hold him.
But despite numerous requests from the US, Ukraine is standing its ground.
– Christina Pascucci, KTLA News