AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Russian opposition activist has been found dead in the Netherlands after being refused political asylum, the Dutch justice ministry said on Thursday.
Alexander Dolmatov fled Russia in June after police raided his parents’ apartment last year. He was under investigation for alleged involvement in violence at a protest against Vladimir Putin on the eve of his inauguration as president.
Dolmatov was found dead in a Dutch detention center early on Thursday morning after being sent there the previous evening following the failure of his asylum application.
“His body was found this morning,” said Charlotte Menten, spokeswoman for the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. “There has been an investigation (by a doctor), and the conclusion was that he committed suicide.”
No details of how Dolmatov died were immediately available.
Menten said he had left a note for his family, who had been informed. “His body will be repatriated if they request it,” she said.
The detention center, which belonged to the Repatriation and Departure Service, prepares failed asylum seekers to return to their country of origin.
Some 17 protesters are being tried in connection with the protest violence and have become a symbol of resistance against a Kremlin crackdown on dissent. Dolmatov’s alleged role in the violence was unclear.
Russian prosecutors have said the May 6 rally across the Moscow River from the Kremlin, where Putin was inaugurated the following day, caused damage worth 29 million roubles (about $900,000).
Most of that was damage to asphalt, which the demonstrators hacked from the ground to throw at police, they said. Activists say police exaggerated the extent of the violence.
Reporting by Thomas Grove and Thomas Escritt; editing by Andrew Roche