Russian businessman Igor Churkin, who was detained in Argentina at the request of Ukraine, has applied for political asylum in the South American country, the Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported, citing Natalia Pustovalova, an official of the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The Argentine police detained Churkin on Jan. 30 at the request of Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation. According to Ukraine, Churkin was involved in a fraudulent attempt to preserve his company's assets in Lviv.
Lviv Bus Plant LLC, co-owned by Churkin, his father Igor Churkin Sr., and brother Oleg, reportedly took out a loan from a state-owned bank, securing it with company property. The loan has never been paid back.
Churkin was detained at Buenos Aires airport when he flew in with his family on a tourist visa. An Argentine court released the Russian businessman on bail, barring him from leaving the country until his potential extradition to Ukraine is considered.
The hearing was expected to occur within 45 days, by mid-March 2024.
Churkin's lawyer told RIA Novosti that the application for political asylum "paralyzes extradition" for several years, at least until the Argentine authorities decide on asylum.
The lawyer added that the businessman also submitted a request for Argentine citizenship because his daughter was born in the country.