Norwegian police have arrested a Russian citizen who’s been living in Tønsberg but fighting for pro-Russian militia in eastern Ukraine. Yan Petrovskiy was recently declared a threat to national security, and his residence permission in Norway has been revoked.
That cleared the way for police to arrest the 29-year-old Petrovskiy, who first came to Norway as a teenager. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that armed police apprehended Petrovskiy at a residence in Tønsberg on Tuesday evening. He’d reportedly been living there with a Norwegian tied to the right-wing group Soldiers of Odin, which took it upon themselves to controversially patrol the streets of various Norwegian towns and cities during last year’s refugee influx.
Photos of Petrovskiy posing with weapons and ammunition have been posted on social media, and he has reported himself that he has traveled back and forth between Norway and Ukraine to take part in battles. He has also posed alongside the burned corpse of a Ukrainian soldier, and told a right-wing website that “either the Russian flag or the EU flag will wave over East Ukraine. I decided to take part in the conflict as a volunteer warrior.” He fought against Ukrainian soldiers on the Ukrainians’ own soil in a conflict that’s been deplored by NATO, the EU, Ukrainian and Norwegian officials, most recently during a visit this week by Ukraine’s president.
Norway’s police intelligence unit PST confirmed to NRK two weeks ago that Petrovskiy had been warned that immigration agency UDI was evaluating whether to deport him, out of consideration for what PST called “fundamental national interests.” He’s also believed to have been outside Norway for too long, thereby violating the terms of his residence permission. Prosecutor Raghnhild Høyvik Solheim of the Sør-Øst Police District confirmed that “we have arrested a Russian citizen who has lost his right to remain in Norway.”
Solheim said Petrovskiy would either be held in custody or sent back to Russia. Petrovskiy’s defense attorney has said his client is a victim of “political persecution” and that he would oppose a deportation.