Skripkov v. Barr, No. 19-3922 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Skripkov worked as an event planner for the Chelyabinsk (Russia) regional government and served on a commission that oversaw government procurement activities. In 2010, regional leadership directed Skripkov to accept bids from specified suppliers at inflated prices. Skripkov refused and received “[c]onstant threats,” causing him to resign. Skripkov continued to receive threats. Skripkov and his wife moved to a different town. In 2014, Skripkov learned about a bidding competition held by the government of Chelyabinsk, believed that the “staggering” amount at issue was unjustified, and reported to a prominent watchdog organization. Skripkov continued to experience threats; someone threw a rock through his window and a note found in the backyard stated: “[Y]ou d[ug] into our business, we will spoil your life.” In 2018, Skripkov assumed a more public role as an anti-corruption activist, which led to several arrests and physical violence, accompanied by more threats.
Skripkov, on vacation in the U.S., received a call from his mother explaining that individuals had come by her house to ask about Skripkov’s adopted son. Skripkov feared that they would take his son. He and his wife sought asylum. The Russian government issued an indictment against Skripkov. An IJ and the BIA denied relief, finding that the officials were motivated solely by their pecuniary interest in furthering a corrupt scheme disrupted by Skripkov. The Seventh Circuit granted Skripkov’s petition for review. The BIA erred in disregarding evidence that Skripkov would be criminally prosecuted for his political opinion if he is returned to Russia.