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Russia: Two more Navalny allies in exile

November 24, 2021

Two more aides of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny are in exile. The news comes as Navalny files his fourth complaint against conditions in the Vladimir region prison camp east of Moscow where he was sent.

Alexei Navalny behind bars in a handout from the Moscow district court
While Navalny petitions to have his status as an inmate reclassifed and an extremist characterization dropped, two more of his allies have gone into exile Image: Moscow's Preobrazhensky District Court/dpa/picture alliance

Two more Navalny allies involved with his most recent campaign are in exile, they said Wednesday.

Irina Fatyanova, Navalny's former campaign chief in St Petersburg, and Navalny's campaign lawyer Yevgeny Smirnov were the latest of his aides and associates to flee Russia.

In June, Russian authorities classified Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation as extremist along with several other organizations. They then closed in on individuals and groups affiliated with Navalny.

Navalny is viewed by Russians and the international community as Putin's most significant political opposition.

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Where is Alexei Navalny?

He is currently serving time in a prison camp in the Vladimir region east of Moscow, allegedly for violating reporting requirements of his parole stemming from an earlier case.

Navalny violated the terms of his parole, authorities say, by leaving the country for Germany when he was recovering from Novichok poisoning after having fallen ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.

He was arrested in January when he returned from Moscow. A Russian court subsequently sentenced him to two and a half years in a penal camp.

His conviction and imprisonment have been roundly criticized by the international community as politically motivated.

On Wednesday he filed a complaint about his detention, his fourth such complaint. Russia state news agency Tass reported that Navalny hopes authorities can drop his status as a prisoner classified as being prone to "committing crimes of a terrorist nature and extremist orientation."

His lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said he was doing so as the designation "carries additional restrictions compared with regular inmates."

Russian authorities systematically dismantle Navalny's network

Russian authorities have used the same charges to investigate campaign staffers and others involved in Navalny's networks in recent months. They have also denied involvement in Navalny's Novichok poisoning.

Instead, Russia has accused the West of a smear campaign.

Navalny supporters and the Russian election

Irina Fatyanova, Navalny's former campaign chief in St Petersburg, wrote on her Telegram channel Tuesday that her decision to leave Russia was motivated by the arrest of fellow campaign manager Liliya Chanysheva earlier this month.

"The case of Liliya Chanysheva has changed a lot and helped me realise I had to leave," she wrote. Chanysheva faces a maximum sentence of ten years.

A lawyer who represented Navalny's campaign, Yevgeny Smirnov, told Reuters he left Russia "due to constant pressure." He cited surveillance but said he could consider returning to Russia.

ar/aw (dpa, Reuters)