Israel intervenes to stop Anti-Putin band's deportation from Thailand to Russia

Bi-2 band vocal in opposition to Putin, includes four Israeli members, arrested for unlicensed performance, released and detained again upon request from Moscow
Israel has intervened to prevent the deportation of a rock band from Thailand to Russia after four of its members were Israeli nationals.
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The diplomatic effort came after the Bi-2 band, vocal critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were arrested in Thailand after performing without a license, released and then detained again upon a request from Moscow. In addition to the Israelis, one member of the Bank is American and another has Australian citizenship.
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(Photo: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via GettyImages)
Members of the band were transported from Phuket to Bangkok ahead of their deportation to their countries of origin, according to the passports used upon entry, but Russia has been applying significant pressure on the Thai authorities to deport them to its territory instead.
The Foreign Ministry and the Israeli embassy in Bangkok have been working to prevent the Israelis from being sent to Russia and have engaged the assistance of the embassies of the United States, Australia, and Germany in Thailand to address this complex situation.
Israel is actively urging Thailand to ensure the band members' security is not compromised. Additionally, there are plans for Israeli representatives to engage in a discussion with the Thai Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jakkapong Sangmanee.
Since one member of the band, Igor Bortnik entered Thailand with an Israeli passport, whereas the rest of the band members entered with Russian passports the Thai officials are only willing to consider Israel's requests on his behalf.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Bi-2 have expressed anti-Putin sentiments in the past
(Photo: Reuters)
Bi-2 is a rock 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 the band 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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