Delaware County Citizens for Refugee Support
We invite and support refugees and asylum seekers to find their home in Delaware County, NY, and advocate for the human rights and freedoms of all displaced people.
Boris, Mariia, Ivan, & Vladimir
First to arrive, Mariia and Boris are Russian dissidents, medical doctors, and anti-war activists. They supported Alexei Navalny’s opposition to the Putin regime and campaigned against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After constant harassment by Russian police, they fled to the US in April 2022 and requested political asylum. They ended up at a privately run detention camp in Louisiana, where they endured horrific mistreatment including limited drinking water, substandard meals, and overcrowded and unsafe living conditions. With your support we were able to pay for the bond to secure their release, and bring them here to Delaware County.
The community has opened its hearts to them: they have temporary housing, English lessons, legal aid, food deliveries, dinner invitations. They are touched and grateful for this support, and settling into their new life here.
Recently, Boris’s cellmates Vladimir and Ivan were released from detention. They will also need the same support that the community extended to Mariia and Boris. With this in mind, we have extended our goal an additional $20,000 to get Vladimir and Ivan settled, and continue our support of Mariia and Boris. We are currently searching for housing for all four of them starting April 2023. We also hope to raise enough to buy an inexpensive car and support them financially until they are able to secure work permits. Other than money, offers of food, transportation, accommodation, and above all friendship, are greatly appreciated.
We’re thankful we live in a community of people who choose to stand with victims of oppression by recognizing that our dignity and theirs, our liberation and theirs, are bound together in our common human experience (paraphrased from Lila Watson/the Aboriginal Rights group, Queensland). DCCRS’s mission is twofold: one, to invite and support refugees and asylum seekers to find their home in Delaware County, and second, to advocate for the human rights and freedoms of all displaced people. And through this collective work we strengthen our community and reaffirm the generosity and humanity of each of us here in Delaware County.
Boris & Mariia
Boris and Mariia are Russian dissidents and medical doctors who have been active supporters of Alexei Navalny’s opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime and campaigners against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After constant harassment by Russian police Mariia and Boris fled to the US and requested political asylum. They ended up at a privately run detention camp in Louisiana where they have endured horrific mistreatment including limited drinking water, substandard meals, and overcrowded and unsafe conditions.
After months of effort, they have finally arrived in Delaware County and are settling into their new life.
“My name is Vladimir Romanenko. I am 36 years old and have lived for the last 12 years in the Republic of Chechnya in Russia. My wife Natasha and I have two young sons who are 5 and 4 years old. For the last five years I have run my own transportation business. In 2022 everything changed in Russia when the war began between Russia and Ukraine. The Putin-appointed head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, is known the world over to be a tyrant and criminal. (The US government has placed personal sanctions on Kadyrov and his family). In April, 2022 Kadyrovites (members of a paramilitary organization believed to be Kadyrov’s private army) approached me and told me to volunteer to fight in the war against Ukraine or they would kill me. To reason with such people is impossible. They are known the world over as criminals who kill, kidnap and torture people. And in Russia they act completely outside the law because they are protected personally by Putin.
I am against the war and believe it to be very wrong. I fled Russia and left everything behind, my wife, my small children, my work, my vehicles and home. I came to the United States as that was the only country where I could be safe (I couldn’t go to Europe because relations between Europe and Russia have been cut off). So I came via Mexico in a car and asked for asylum on May 1st of this year when I was seized at the border. Then on May 5th I was transferred to a Louisiana prison, where I remained for 7 months and 10 days. In prison I also had an immigration hearing, where I lost my case. Despite the entire world knowing of the war between Ukraine and Russia, the judge was not convinced I was in any danger and put me into deportation status. I am incredibly worried about my family. I couldn’t bring them with me because the route here is so dangerous, but I’m doing everything I can to help them and get them to a safe place.”
“My name is Ivan Sokolovsky, I’m 25 years old. All my life I lived in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. I worked as an accountant in a large state bank. In 2014, Vladimir Putin captured Crimea and started a war in Ukraine to seize power in it. This event prompted me to take part in the protests. One of these protests was in January 2021 when the well-known oppositionist Alexei Navalny in Russia was poisoned by Russian special services with combat chemical weapons, which are prohibited for use and even storage. Alexei was arrested by the Russian police when he was returning from Germany, where he underwent long-term treatment after his poisoning. In connection with this event, peaceful processions were held in my city demanding the release of Alexei Navalny from prison. At one of these processions I was detained by the Russian police and fined under a fabricated article. After that, my boss forced me to write a letter of resignation, and my other colleagues were forbidden to go to such meetings under threat of dismissal. After that, I was summoned for interrogations and preventive conversations in the police department, where I was threatened with criminal imprisonment if I continued to go to protests further. Several times I tried to get a job in other Russian banks, but it was unsuccessful. The security services of banks refused me because I had previously been convicted. I appealed my case to the European Court of Human Rights, but Russia simply stopped paying compensation and completely broke off all ECHR relations.
The police came to my house several times with summons for interrogations. My lawyer has been declared a foreign agent and now I don’t know her fate. This is another new way to get rid of unwanted people in Russia. At one point, all independent media began to accuse them of being foreign agents. Irina Slavinykh, a public figure and an independent journalist, was also accused as a foreign agent. She poured gasoline on herself and burned herself right in front of the main police building, right in front of the building where I worked. She did it because of pressure from the police because of her journalistic activities. It attracted a lot of public attention. She still has a husband and a child. It’s still hard for me to remember this, but her act has always given me courage and determination.
Refugees from all over the world, supported by the people of Delaware County, NY.