British Columbia

Former KGB officer loses last bid to stay in Canada

A Federal Court judge has crushed the last attempt by a former KGB officer living in Metro Vancouver to avoid deportation to Russia on Wednesday.
Mikhail Lennikov will board a flight for Vladivostok, Russia, at 3 a.m. PT Wednesday. ((CBC))

A Federal Court judge has crushed the last attempt by a former KGB officer living in Metro Vancouver to avoid deportation to Russia on Wednesday.

In his ruling Monday, Justice Russel Zinn turned down Mikhail Lennikov's plea to have the federal minister of public safety's decision overturned. Lennikov was ordered to leave the country because of his service with the now-disbanded security agency in the 1980s.

Zinn said Lennikov's fears of arrest and charges of treason in Russia were not well-founded.

While acknowledging the wide support Lennikov has from his community, Zinn added the integrity of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and public confidence in it would not be served if he let Lennikov stay.

Lennikov, 48, was ordered deported because, as a young man, he was recruited as an officer by KGB to do intelligence work in his native country.

Lennikov, his wife, Irina, and son, Dmitri, 17, had lived in Metro Vancouver for 11 years before the threat of deportation emerged last fall when the family applied for permanent residency.

The government deemed Lennikov a security risk and ordered the whole family deported. Lennikov has said he was a low-level translator with the KGB for five years and got out of the agency as quickly as he could.

The Lennikovs petitioned federal Public Safety Minister Peter van Loan to allow them to stay in Canada, but the ministerial relief that would allow them to stay was denied in February this year.

Lennikov's wife and son were granted permanent residency in March on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but Lennikov's bid to stay failed and he was given a removal order to leave the country by June 3.

In a last-ditch effort last week, his lawyer requested a stay of deportation, along with a judicial review of the government's decision to send Lennikov back to Russia.

Darryl Larson argued that Lennikov's life would be at risk if he was sent back, and his family would suffer irreparable harm when they were torn apart.

Lennikov thanks supporters

On Monday, Zinn dismissed that argument, saying Lennikov's wife and son would experience harm no different than other immigrant families.

Lennikov said Monday he still cannot see how he is a threat to Canada's national interest.

"I just wish that someone down the road would explain to Dmitri how tearing our family apart would be in best national interests of Canada," he told CBC News.

"How can I put 12 years of my life, my family's life, my son's life into suitcases and boxes and take it with me? I wouldn't wish anybody to go through this experience."

Lennikov expressed thanks for the wide community support his family has received, especially from people he has never met.

"People who knew what the KGB was about and were able to overcome this prejudice and … still support us, I would like to say thank you — thank you. "

Lennikov fulfilled his wish to see his son graduate from high school last Friday.

At 3 a.m. PT Wednesday morning, he will have to board a flight for Vladivostok.