Ukrainians Oppose Lennikov’s Fight To Stay

Ukrainians oppose Lennikov's fight to stay
Cops should grab him from church

By Susan Lazaruk
The Province
June 5, 2009

A civil-rights group opposed to KGB agents settling in Canada is calling for the removal of ex-agent Mikhail Lennikov from an East Vancouver church he's taken sanctuary in to evade deportation to Russia.

“We have immigration laws that exclude persons who served in the secret police regimes in places like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union,” said Lubomyr Luciuk of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which years ago launched the No KGB in Canada website.

Luciuk, a former immigration and refugee board member, said Lennikov would not have been allowed to immigrate if he told officials before arriving about his work in the KGB.

“The RCMP should go into that church and they should remove him forcibly if necessary and put him on a plane back to Russia,” said Luciuk.

A Canadian Borders Service Agency spokeswoman said the department doesn't condone a person who has exhausted legal avenues hiding in churches.

There is no law preventing CBSA from going into the church, but it has never done so in the past, said Faith St. John.

Lennikov arrived in Canada in 1997 on a student visa, which, according to citizen and immigration's website, doesn't require listing past work or military history. He applied in 1999 for permanent residency and included his KGB history, listing it by its English name, the “Committee on State Security,” said his lawyer, Darryl Larson.

As early as 2002 Lennikov was told he was inadmissible because of his KGB past.

After an immigration and refugee hearing, the board members noted Lennikov, a former leader of the Communist Youth League (or Kom So Mol) who worked for the KGB in 1983-1988, minimized his contribution to the KGB.

“There is sufficient credible and trustworthy evidence to conclude that Lennikov was complicit in acts of espionage during his years as an active KGB member,” wrote lead member Irene Dicaire in a 2006 decision that Lennikov has been fighting ever since.

“It is my view that Lennikov was trying to downplay his true role and to hide his real goal,” she said.

The board also found Lennikov posed as a student and professor to collect information on Japanese businessmen, whom he called prospective KGB informants, was promoted to level of captain and “did more than clerical functions.”

Lennikov said he mainly worked as a Japanese translator and that he was coerced into joining the KGB because of fear of consequences of saying no to the invitation to join.

“Lennikov said that he was not really fearing for his life or security but more for his career, including the possibility of travelling abroad,” said Dicaire.

Lennikov says he fears repercussions if he returns to Russia, but Dicaire noted he “experienced no repercussions until [he] finally left Russia and Japan to come to Canada, some eight years after officially leaving the KGB,” and that he worked for the Russian government after 1991.

Lennikov also maintains he left the KGB as soon as he could, but Dicaire noted “enough credible and trustworthy evidence before me to conclude differently.”

She denied his application.

Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh met with Lennikov at First Lutheran Church yesterday to show his support, one of almost two dozen MPs who are urging the government to allow Lennikov to stay in Canada.

Dosanjh called for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to reveal his reasons for believing Lennikov poses a threat to Canada's national security.

Lennikov has an appeal pending of the government's declaration that he is inadmissable to Canada. That appeal will be heard by the federal court of appeal in about three months.