Former Marine Patrick Downey appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, asking for political asylum. Patrick told Pravda that he faces severe punishment at home. Downey said that his intention to publish material about American support for Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili, including the war with South Ossetia, is behind all of it. Patrick Downey is a nice young man who speaks some Russian. He said, “Actually, I love reading. Not newspapers, but books, for example, Dostoevsky‘s short stories”. Whilst Patrick doesn’t read Russian newspapers, he still thinks they represent a free press, unlike those in his home country, noting, “You have lots of newspapers, but you write about various things, including views that aren’t shared by your government. I believe that this is freedom. In the USA, there’s a taboo… you can’t write objectionable things about corporations or people close to the White House… it’s suppressed, at times, in a very harsh manner. A financial network rules our country and this is a real problem. This isn’t my first time in Russia, but this visit is due to the fact that my life’s in danger and I need help”. We walked in one of Moscow’s parks and Patrick told me about himself and about how he came to come to Russia.
Downey worked at the American embassy in Georgia, but said that he was disappointed in the Foreign Service, so, he then took a job as a private English tutor to Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili and moved to Tbilisi. There, Downey obtained documents that led to the present problems in his life. The documents confirmed that the USA funded anti-Russian activities by Ivanishvili. In a document dated 2007, it stated that the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 60 percent of whose shares is owned by the USA, transferred 12 million USD to Ivanishvili’s bank account. The stated purpose of the transfer was structural development. A year later, in August 2008, Georgia sent troops into South Ossetia and, according to Downey, again, not without American financial aid, including the money transferred Ivanishvili’s bank account.
Downey returned to the USA, he decided to make this information public, but faced strong opposition. The media flatly refused to publish the sensational material. As a result, the government took interest in the former Marine, he received the nickname “Trouble Man”; in consequence, according to Downey, American special services tried to neutralise him. He observed, “I began to feel that it was simply dangerous for me to be in the USA. They removed the documents that I uploaded online, they blocked my videos on YouTube, and they began to threaten me. Threats also came from Georgian sources, which demanded that I be quiet”. The Trouble Man tried to get political asylum in Ireland, but the authorities reacted belligerently to him staying there, he landed in jail, and, later, they deported him.
Patrick explained, “I didn’t want to be quiet, I wanted to tell the truth. However, because of that, I had to leave my home in New York, and, indeed, my country. I don’t want to say that the USA is an ‘evil empire’, but I’m asking for protection from the evil that’s stalking me”. In New York, Patrick left family, his parents and a pregnant sister. Now, that he’s in a foreign country, Downey’s tried to call home, but no one’s responding to his calls. On 21 September, Downey asked the Immigration Service for political asylum. Despite the fact that Russia hasn’t agreed to provide him sanctuary, Downey said he felt supported even without official documents covered with seals, saying, “In Russia, I’ve met people who wanted to help. They’re ordinary people. I want to live here; I love this country and hope that it’ll protect me”.
Russians helped him to disseminate an address to President Putin on the internet… “Patrick lost the support and protection of the American government for his criticism of its foreign policy, all references to violations of his civil rights and liberties by these bodies went unanswered. The USA left its citizen, who dissented against American government policies without protection. Downey appealed to the Immigration Service in Moscow asking for political asylum. Please, pay attention to the fate of Patrick Downey and assist in the consideration of his application as soon as possible”.
Downey said, “I understand that if Russia gives me political asylum, I probably won’t be able to return home. Nevertheless, I’m ready for that, firstly, for the sake of the safety of my family, who, like me, wouldn’t be left alone if I stayed in the USA. I’m terribly hurt, I’m so far from home, but I don’t have another choice”. We passed a small church, Downey looked up at the domes, and that he wanted to accept Orthodoxy, saying, “This isn’t something that I just dreamed up (laughing). I’ve met a lot of really religious people who helped me incredibly. I became interested in your culture and religion. I started going to church. My desire isn’t fanciful; I just feel that I need it, that it’s mine, too”.
Finally, we asked him what he’d do if the authorities allowed him to stay in Russia, Patrick replied, “What would I do? I’d live! For one thing, I’d get married. I don’t want to fight with anyone; I don’t want to be afraid all the time. I want a family and a home. That what I hope that I’ll get”. Since the collapse of the USSR, Russia hasn’t granted anyone political asylum. It’s possible that Patrick Downey would be the first; if so, his personal “Cold War” would end.
27 September 2012