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Elderly Russian Human Rights Activist Appeals Again

In an effort to overturn the Helsinki Administrative Court's deportation decision, Maria Kirbasova's supporters are asking the court to consider her poor mental state. An appeal to the court's deportation decision was submitted on Wednesday. The appeal includes a psychologist's statement which asserts that Maria Kirbasova is fully dependent on her daughter Kermen Soitu. The court's answer to the appeal is expected on Thursday. Soitu says that the court's decision on Tuesday to uphold the deportation order was a hard blow for her mother, who has been both paralysed and depressed by the decision. Earlier in the week Kirbasova was granted one week's grace period on the deportation due to her poor health. The 67-year-old Kirbasova arrived in Finland last October to stay with her daughter, Kermen Soitu, but the Finnish Immigration Service rejected her residence permit application because a mother-daughter relationship is not considered sufficient grounds for residence. On Friday, the Helsinki Administrative Court rejected an appeal and upheld the order for her deportation. Soitu says her mother has no relatives to care for her in Russia, and that her mother's position as a dissident and human rights activist will make it too difficult to obtain proper care from the state. Soitu has also has pledged to cover all of her mother's medical costs. Kirbasova is an active opponent of the conflict in Chechnya and founder of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, which seeks to expose human rights violations within the Russian military. Public Support for Ailing Activist Minister of Migration Astrid Thors, Christian Democratic Party chair Päivi Räsänen and the chair of the Green League parliamentary group, Anni Sinnemäki, have all called for Kirbasova to be allowed to remain in Finland. However the matter is up to the Helsinki Administrative Court.

Kirbasova's daughter says she has been contacted by many Finns offering their encouragement. In addition several church parishes have offered support, but none have extended sanctuary to Kirbasova. Soitu did not say if sanctuary would be sought from a church if no other means is found to keep her mother in the country.

"If the police come to the door with guns and forcibly take her away, then she will have to go. This is a familiar situation for my mother. During the Second World War she was exiled to Siberia. History repeats itself," says Soitu.

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