Ukrainian ex-intelligence officer applies for asylum in Serbia

Ukrainian ex-intelligence officer applies for asylum in Serbia

Andriy Naumov, who was detained at the Serbia-Macedonia border this summer, has applied for refugee status in Serbia. The senior Ukrainian secret service officer tried to smuggle a significant amount of cash and two precious stones without declaring them at customs. Kyiv is now seeking Mr Naumov’s extradition, which he is trying to escape by claiming asylum. V4NA has also sent its questions regarding the case to the former chief's legal representative.


Serbian Interior Ministry to decide

Andriy Naumov was arrested on 7 June at Presevo, on the Serbian-North Macedonia border. The senior secret service officer was caught with hundreds of thousands of euros in cash and two emeralds and was taken to Nis prison in Serbia.

Photo: Interior Ministry of Serbia

Kyiv later asked Belgrade to extradite the former officer on charges of abuse of office and corruption. However, Mr Naumov claims that extraditing him to Ukraine would effectively mean a death sentence for him. He fears for his life, he said. Being returned to Ukraine can be prevented by applying for refugee status. Serbia and Ukraine do not have a bilateral agreement regulating the issue, so the European Convention on Human Rights applies, which states that the submission of an asylum application interrupts the extradition procedure, defence lawyer Momcilo Kovacevic told the daily Danas. The asylum application is decided by the Asylum Office of the Serbian Ministry of Interior.

According to Serbian law, the right to this type of protection is granted to a person who is considered by the competent authority to be at real risk of persecution in his/her country of origin or permanent residence.

V4NA sent some questions to Naumov’s legal representative regarding the case. We asked Momcilo Kovacevic what corruption charges the Ukrainian ex-officer is being accused of, what his client can expect if Serbia extradites him to Kyiv, and whether it is realistic for his client to gain refugee status in Serbia. However, we have not yet received answers to these questions.

As previously reported by our news agency, Andriy Naumov is currently accused of crimes of a financial nature in Ukraine, but the prosecutor general’s office launched a pre-trial investigation for high treason on 13 March this year. At this stage, Ukrainian authorities have requested Naumov’s extradition on charges of abuse of office and embezzlement.

Naumov’s career path in Ukraine

Andriy Naumov started his career at the Ukrainian state prosecutor’s office, where he spent 12 years. He was first a prosecutor at the department of financial, economic and state issues, then he was promoted to work with the chief prosecutor. Later he was appointed to fill the prestigious position. He finished his jurist career as the logistics manager of the Ukrainian chief prosecutor’s office.

As reported by V4NA, after leaving the prosecutor’s office, Mr Naumov began working at the state authority called DAZV, which was tasked with supervising the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The 30-km zone was marked in 1986 after the disaster of the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. At the Zone, Mr Naumov was initially responsible for the “construction of industrial facilities”, and then in 2018, he was appointed the head of the centre that managed the Zone’s organisational, technical and information support. This centre managed the Zone’s facilities and was tasked with providing information to the public about the radiation status of the Chernobyl vicinity.

According to Ukrainian sources, Mr Naumov cooperated with private companies that carried out work in the zone or organised trips for visitors. However, the activities at the Zone were also being monitored by the investigative bodies of the state and suspicion of abuse of office arose, ie some of the public money intended for rehabilitation ended up in the pockets of private individuals.

The suspicion of corruption was also raised in connection with Andriy Naumov and he was taken into custody, but his involvement in the case could not be established, according to the official position released to the press.

Despite some suspicious dealings, Mr Naumov was not sidelined, on the contrary, another high-ranking position awaited him, at the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), no less. He spent two years at the security service. At the end of 2020, the press began to increasingly scrutinise Mr Naumov’s previous corruption cases, pointing out, for example, his close cooperation with the customs authorities, which enabled him to amass a dubious fortune. When his dealings became widely known, Mr Zelensky was forced to take action and removed him from his post by a secret decree in July 2021, without providing any explanation. Mr Naumov mysteriously disappeared just hours before Russia’s attack.



Andrij Naumov, corruption, nis, serbia, ukraine