Support The Moscow Times!

Swiss Muslim Flees North Ossetia Prison

A Swiss Muslim convert with neo-Nazi tattoos has fled a penal colony in North Ossetia just hours before his release.

Christoph Martin Häusler, who failed to show up for a roll call Thursday, likely wanted to avoid deportation to Switzerland, where he is wanted by local authorities on unspecified charges, North Ossetian police said, Itar-Tass reported.

Häusler, who was serving a 10-month term for illegally crossing the border, unsuccessfully attempted to flee shortly after being detained in North Ossetia last August, the report said.

A regional television channel, Alania, aired photos of the runaway, who is 1.8 meters tall and has multiple tattoos, including a skull on the back of his head, a Celtic cross on his left forearm and the letters "SS" on his right hand.

Häusler, who remained on the run Sunday, arrived in Russia "as a tourist" from Finland in July 2010 despite not having a visa or any valid identification, the Prosecutor General's Office said last year. He was detained near a border checkpoint close to the border with Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

News reports said Häusler converted to Islam in Turkey around 2005. He was investigated for possible links to North Caucasus insurgency after his arrest last year, but no such ties have been reported, Itar-Tass said.

Both North and South Ossetia are predominantly Christian regions.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.