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Navalny's Spokeswoman Reportedly Leaves Russia

Kira Yarmysh speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow on August 16.
Kira Yarmysh speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow on August 16.

The Interfax news agency has quoted two sources as saying that Kira Yarmysh, the spokeswoman for jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, has left Russia after a court restricted her freedom for allegedly violating coronavirus protocols by urging people to rally in support of the Kremlin critic.

One source told the news agency on August 30 that Yarmysh had "left the territory of the Russian Federation," while another source said she "has left for Helsinki," in neighboring Finland.

On April 16, a Moscow court sentenced Yarmysh to 18 months of so-called "restricted freedom," which means that she cannot change her permanent address, leave Moscow and the surrounding region without police permission, or take part in public events.

Yarmysh was found guilty of violating restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus by publicly calling for people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support Navalny in January.

Last week, Yarmysh filed an appeal against the court ruling.

Several of Navalny's supporters have been convicted on similar charges and given freedom-limitation sentences in recent weeks.

Earlier reports said that one of Navalny's closest associates, Lyubov Sobol, had left Russia for an unspecified country after she was handed an 18-month restricted-freedom sentence in the case in early August. The reports have not been confirmed either by Sobol or her associates.

Navalny, 45, fell violently ill one year ago while on a passenger flight in Siberia, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing after which he was rushed to hospital. Days later, he was airlifted to a clinic in Berlin, where doctors battled to save his life. It was later determined by several laboratories that he had been poisoned with a Soviet-style nerve agent.

Upon his return from Germany in January, Navalny was jailed for parole violations of what he says were politically motivated convictions. He has blamed President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning, while the Kremlin denies any involvement.

Thousands have been arrested across Russia for demonstrating in support of Putin's most vocal critic in a sometimes violent crackdown on dissent ahead of September parliamentary elections.

Navalny and his associates have been calling on voters in Russia to use their so-called Smart Voting system to support candidates in the elections to defeat Kremlin-linked figures and candidates for United Russia, the ruling party backed by Putin.

With reporting by Interfax
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