Russian Official Caught Trying to Cross U.S.-Mexico Border

A Russian politician who publicly opposed his country's invasion of Ukraine, has reportedly been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Viktor Kamenshchikov, was a Communist Party member who served as a deputy at the Vladivostok Duma (Parliament) in the administrative center of the Primorsky region in Russia's far east.

RIA Novosti reported that a source informed the Russian state news agency that Kamenshchikov had been arrested, although "it is not yet known for what exactly, presumably for an illegal border crossing."

The report did not specify where he was detained and Newsweek has contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for comment.

Migrants Continue To Cross Southern Border
A family of asylum seekers from Colombia wave to Border Patrol agents as they walk through the U.S.-Mexico border to turn themselves in on May 13, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona. Russian official Viktor Kamenshchikov has reportedly been detained trying to cross the southern border. Photo by Apu Gomes/Getty Images

RIA said that Kamenshchikov had not appeared at Duma meetings since the end of February when he publicly opposed the invasion of Ukraine known in Russia as a "special military operation."

A Duma source told the newspaper Kommersant "we have no information over where he is now."

On February 27, Kamenshchikov, aged 31, filed an application to leave the Communists after his party recognized the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.

He said, according to Kommersant, "I do not agree with the position of the party leadership" in its support for the "military operations in Ukraine and the use of Russian troops on the territory of a neighboring state."

"I am against war in principle," he added.

In a March 5 interview with sibreal.org, he claimed that politicians, including those from his party, deceived deputies into voting for a military invasion.

He said that Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LPDR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky— who died after a reportedly long illness on April 6—knew about Vladimir Putin's war plans in advance.

Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine risk arrest and imprisonment. The Russian parliament passed a law in April whereby citizens who spread what it described as "fake" information about the military can be jailed for up to 15 years.

However, Kamenshchikov said in the March interview, "most Russians don't understand that by keeping silent, they increase their own long-term losses."

He said any failure to express opposition to the war by people, "means that they are for it" and that they and Russia will have to pay for "five, 10, 20 years for all the horror that is happening today."

"Don't call me a hero because I defiantly left the party," he said. "People in Ukraine are waking up at night from the explosion of bombs. I am really ashamed to discuss this issue."

Anatoly Dolgachev, the first secretary of the Communist Party's Primorsky regional branch said that the party had asked Kamenshchikov to quit as a deputy. However, he is still listed as an "active member" of the legislative body.

Dolgachev told Kommersant that for a communist, "the last thing to do is to flee to the United States, whose imperialist policy the party opposes."