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Fyodor Telin worked as a lawyer for Navalny's network of regional campaign groups until Navalny's team disbanded them in April after a Moscow prosecutor went to court to have them branded extremist.

UFA, Russia -- The former lawyer of a regional organization for jailed opposition activist Aleksei Navalny has left Russia amid an ongoing crackdown on the defunct organizations associated with the Kremlin critic that were labeled as extremist earlier this year.

Fyodor Telin worked as a lawyer for Navalny's network of regional campaign groups until Navalny's team disbanded them in April after a Moscow prosecutor went to court to have them branded extremist. A court later accepted the prosecutor's appeal and labeled the national network extremist, effectively outlawing it.

Telin told RFE/RL on November 19 that he is currently in Georgia, where he "had to move" after Navalny was additionally charged in August with creating an organization that posed a threat to citizens and their rights.

"Russia's new laws [adopted this year] allow the prosecution of people retroactively, while the constitution does not allow that," Telin said, adding that after Navalny was charged investigators from Moscow arrived in the capital of Bashkortostan, Ufa, to interrogate former members of his support group in the city.

"I understood that the Investigative Committee started applying pressure on activists to get testimony against Navalny, his associates, and groups linked to them," Telin said.

Telin said that he initially hoped the situation would change and that he could return by the New Year's holidays. However, after the arrest of the former chief of Navalny’s support group in Ufa, Lilia Chanysheva, he says he understands he will likely have to stay abroad for a longer period of time.

Chanysheva was arrested on extremism charges and placed in a detention center last week after police searched her home and the homes of other former members of Navalny's group in Ufa.

Navalny himself has been in prison since February, while several of his associates have been charged with establishing an extremist group. Many of his associates have fled the country.

Turkmen opposition activist Azat Isakov, who has lived in Russia for many years, had publicly criticized Turkmenistan’s “extraordinarily repressive” government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging Turkmenistan to provide information about the whereabouts of a human rights activist who went missing in Russia last month, saying he was likely a victim of an enforced disappearance by the Turkmen security services.

“There were “many unanswered questions around [Azat] Isakov’s removal from Russia to Turkmenistan, but there is no reason to doubt that he is now in Turkmen detention, yet another victim of an enforced disappearance,” meaning that Turkmenistan’s authorities are concealing information about his detention and fate, the New York-based human rights watchdog said in a statement on November 18.

The 37-year-old Isakov, who has resided in Russia for many years, publicly criticized Turkmenistan’s “extraordinarily repressive” government in 2020 over its handling of the aftermath of a disastrous hurricane in his home region.

A Turkmen opposition activist in Moscow, Chemen Ore, raised concern about his fate in early November, saying he had gone missing on October 20 and may have been deported to Turkmenistan where he would face an arbitrary arrest and torture.

Last week, Russia's Interior Ministry denied that Isakov was deported, saying he had left Moscow for Turkmenistan on his own will.

However, HRW cited multiple sources as saying Isakov had lost his passport and had repeatedly said he had no desire to return to the Central Asian country.

The group noted that the Turkmen government “severely punishes all dissent, and there are many grim examples of people being imprisoned for daring to criticize the authorities.”

"Turkmen security services repeatedly threatened Isakov’s family, pressuring them to get him to stop his activism," it also said.

The statement cited Ore as saying she had learned through informal channels that Isakov is in the Turkmen security services’ custody but she had received no further information from these sources over the past three days.

The U.S. administration and the European Union should urge Turkmen authorities to “immediately confirm Isakov’s whereabouts and free him,” said Rachel Denber, deputy director of the HRW's Europe and Central Asia Division.

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