British Columbia

Man with KGB past fights for last chance to stay in Canada

A former KGB officer who came to Vancouver with his family more than a decade ago will have to leave his family behind and return to Russia on June 3 unless he is granted a stay of deportation.
Mikhail Lennikov says his wife and son will run into financial hardship if he cannot stay in Canada and support them. ((CBC))

A former KGB officer who came to Vancouver with his family more than a decade ago will have to leave his family behind and return to Russia on June 3 unless he is granted a stay of deportation.

Mikhail Lennikov, 48, has been ordered deported because, as a young man, he was recruited as an officer by the now-disbanded security agency to do intelligence work in his native country.

He told CBC News on Wednesday he's requesting a stay of deportation, along with a judicial review of the federal government's decision to send him back to Russia.

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.

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.

Ordered to leave Canada

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 on June 3.

"The next step is file an application for a stay of deportation because we have an outstanding application for a judicial review on Mr. van Loan's decision," Lennikov told CBC News.

"Our hopes are that before the deportation is executed, the stay will be granted so that we can proceed with the judicial review application," he said at a downtown Vancouver immigration office.

Darryl Larson, Lennikov's lawyer, said his client should be allowed to stay in Canada on similar grounds that were considered for his wife and son.

"It's been so long since he was with the KGB. His family is here.…There is no evidence that he has been any kind of a threat," Larson told CBC News.

"Because the scheduled removal is for June 3, we are now in the position of having to go to the Federal Court to ask them … to grant a stay of execution of that removal."

Throughout his fight to stay in Canada, Lennikov has said he didn't want to be a part of the KGB and got out shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union to start a new life in Canada.

Although the government ruled he is "a threat or risk to Canadian national interest," Lennikov said he "never received any elaboration on this reasoning."

He said his family has been working hard and participating actively in society.

"I told Irina, 'Let's do whatever we can to be very productive members of this country.' … We want this country to be our home," Lennikov said.