London: Solidarity demo with 195 Mare Street squatter and Russian LGBTQ activist facing deportation

Update: Ira has been released! Release party at 195 Mare Street, Hackney, 10pm tonight! @IrinaMustStay

From Irina Must Stay:

A crowd of more than 150 people assembled around the UKBA offices in London Bridge. We spoke to Ira to show her how much support there is for her and others in Yarl’s Wood. Almost £100 was raised to be passed on to other detainees for phone credit as a lot of them are completely isolated. If you would like to donate online for detainees in Yarl’s Wood or to the campaign please send a message via the Irina Must Stay facebook. We are thinking of holding another demo on Saturday 14th Dec at the Home Office or Yarl’s Wood – please follow the twitter @irinamuststay to keep updated. Thanks for your support!


Irina is a Russian LGBTQ person and political activist seeking asylum in the UK. She faces deportation in a matter of days. If she goes back to Russia, she faces imprisonment and violence from the state and far right groups.

On 6 December Irina was detained by UKBA taken to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on ‘fast track’, a system which allows asylum claims to be processed within 2 weeks, and less than 1% of such claims are successful.

Irina is at threat of certain imprisonment because of her political activity. She was harassed, followed, and attacked by state officials, the police and far right groups because of her political activism and LGBTQ status. Testimony from Russian activists and public figures shows the danger to Irina’s life. In 2012 Irina received a death threat from the Russian police. There was no reason to doubt the seriousness of the threat, since two months earlier, Irina’s friend and associate Filipp Kostenko had been assaulted, brutally beaten and had his legs broken by ‘persons unknown’ after receiving similar threats. Her parents’ house was raided repeatedly, she was followed, and subjected to multiple illegal arrests and beatings by the police. After months living constantly on the move, staying with friends and acquaintances, she fled Russia.    Irina’s detainment is totally inappropriate and in contravention of Home Office policy. Irina’s case involves a significant number of documents to prepare and translate, that cannot be dealt with within the fast-track procedure.

Russian LGBTQ people and political activists are facing an onslaught of state persecution in their home country. At the very least Irina must be taken off the fast track program so that her case receives the proper consideration it deserves.