Russian lawmaker Viktor Kamenshchikov reportedly has been detained at the United States-Mexico border.
News of the detention was first reported Thursday by the Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti, which cited an unspecified law enforcement source.
According to the source, while it was certain that Kamenshchikov was arrested at the border, “it is not yet known for what exactly, presumably for an illegal border crossing,” the report said.
Kamenshchikov was a member of the Communist Party of Russia who had served as a deputy at the Vladivostok Duma in the Primorsky region of the Russian Far East.
The representative had quit the party after publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.
“I do not agree with the position of the party leadership” in supporting the “military operations in Ukraine and the use of Russian troops on the territory of a neighbouring state,” Kamenshchikov said while leaving the Communist Party, according to the U.K.’s Mirror.
“I am against war in principle,” he added.
While Kamenshchikov is still listed in the Vladivostok Duma as a deputy, he has not attended any meetings since the end of February, which is around the time the war began, RIA Novosti reported.
On April 14, according to the news agency, Kamenshchikov uploaded photographs on his social media handles and wrote that he had arrived in Istanbul. His last post was on April 16.
Виктора Каменщикова задержали за попытку нелегально пересечь границу, сообщил источник «РИА Новости». Собеседник PrimaMedia уточнил, что в США у него ребенок. Депутат отказался поддержать спецоперациюhttps://t.co/JyUJVvXHGs pic.twitter.com/Jusk8SonEI
— РБК (@ru_rbc) May 19, 2022
“I have information that he was detained at the border of Mexico and the United States … I had some information that he left through Georgia or Turkey. He did not tell anyone, neither my friends nor me,” Vladimir Bespalov, a deputy at the Legislative Assembly of Primorsky, told RIA Novosti.
“He … he just cut off all ends with the party organization, as a deputy of the Duma — since February,” Bespalov said, according to the outlet.
“He left everything and disappeared. I think that he acted purposefully.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to The Western Journal’s requests for confirmation of Kamenshchikov’s detention.
According to RIA Novosti, the Russian has a child who is a U.S. citizen by birthright.
The U.S. allows those eligible for asylum to apply if they have suffered from persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution in their home countries for their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has cracked down on domestic dissent against the war, expanding laws to punish criticism of the Russian military as disinformation with penalties going up to 15 years imprisonment.
The government detained more than 15,000 people for protesting the war in cities throughout Russia, Politico reported in March.
While Kamenschikov can legally file for asylum on those grounds, it is not guaranteed that he will be given refugee status and the legal protections associated with it.