A Russian-Belarusian rock band with anti-war views that had been touring Thailand is under threat of being deported back to Russia, activists say.

 Human Rights Watch has called on the Thai government not to deport Bi-2, a band criticized by Moscow, who were arrested for unauthorised shows while touring Phuket. The band, which has paid a fine for the breach, claims that Russian authorities found an excuse to detain them. They claim that outside pressure and inadequate translation services contributed to their detention.

The band, consisting of seven members, has been criticized by Russian authorities for their “anti-Russian stance” and opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some members are dual citizens of Australia and Israel, while activists warn that at least two members have Russian citizenship and could be deported back to Russia. The band has been touring outside Russia since 2022, including Europe.

Thailand, particularly its island holiday spots like Phuket, has seen a significant influx of Russian tourists since the Ukraine war began. Nearly half a million Russians arrived in Phuket in the first half of 2023. If Thai authorities send Bi-2 Russians back to Russia, it would be the first case under Prime Minister Sretta’s government, breaching Thai domestic law and international laws against torture.