Thailand deports anti-Putin band to Israel instead of Russia

Foreign Ministry and Israeli Embassy in Thailand intervene so 4 Israeli anti-Putin band members detained in Bangkok will be deported to Israel; The 7 members of Bi-2 rock band were arrested for unlicensed performance and Israel feared its citizens would be extradited to Russia

After concern that the Israeli members of the anti-Putin rock band, Bi-2, would be extradited to Russia following their arrest in Thailand, the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Thailand intervened, resulting in the four band members being deported to Israel.
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The seven members of the Russian band, who are known for their opposition to the Putin regime, were arrested last week in Phuket for performing without a license. They were released, but arrested again following a Russian request to Thailand, and taken to detention in Bangkok. All of the band members are Russian citizens, but four of them have Israeli citizenship, one band member is Australian and another one is American.
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(Photo: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via GettyImages)
According to the procedure, they are supposed to be deported to the country of the passport they used to enter Thailand. Russia exerted pressure for them to be extradited to Russia, while the Israeli band members wanted to be deported to Israel. After the ministry's successful efforts, the four Israelis bought plane tickets to Israel and will be deported to Israel tomorrow on an El Al flight.
At first, only Igor Bortnik could be deported to Israel because he entered Thailand with an Israeli passport. The rest entered with their Russian passports, but will still be deported to Israel. The Australian band member will be deported to Australia and, currently, none of the seven band members will be extradited to Russia, despite its international pressure on the matter.
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Bi-2 out of Putin's reach
Bi-2 out of Putin's reach
Bi-2 out of Putin's reach
(Photo: Reuters)
Bi-2 is a rock band that was founded in 1988 in Belarus, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. The band has undergone several transformations since its inception. Its founders are Alexandr Uman (known as Shura) and Igor Bortnik (Luba), both Israelis. Bortnik immigrated to Israel in January 1991 at the age of 20 and worked as a security guard at a construction site, while Uman arrived in the country the same year at the age of 19 and also worked in security. They continued to pursue their musical interests during their free time.
In Israel, Bi-2 began performing and won first place at the Jerusalem Rock Festival. However, at the end of 1993, Shura left Israel and settled in Australia after spending two years in the country. Meanwhile, Luba served in the IDF, and later pursued a career in computer graphics.
In 1998, Luba also left Israel and joined Shura in Australia. The following year, they relocated from Australia to Russia and reestablished Bi-2. Throughout the years, they have made frequent visits to Israel to perform, garnering a substantial fan base in the country.
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