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Activist Flees Russia After Assault, Threats


Damir Mukhammadayev (left) has taken part in rallies to protest Crimea's annexation and persecution of Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities.

KALININGRAD, Russia -- A Russian activist who has criticized the government for the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 has fled the country after he was attacked and threatened.

Damir Mukhammadayev, from the city of Kaliningrad in Russia's western exclave by the same name, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, told RFE/RL on November 6 that he and his family had left Russia, fearing for their safety.

Mukhammadayev has taken part in rallies to protest Crimea's annexation and persecution of Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities. In 2016 he was viciously beaten up by unidentified attackers.

He told RFE/RL that Russian law enforcement officers tried to recruit him as an informer in July and threatened to imprison him.

"We first left for a former Soviet republic and later moved to a country in the West. At this point I cannot tell you my exact location due to security reasons," Mukhammadayev said.

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 and began backing separatists in Ukraine's east, where more than 13,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict.

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    RFE/RL's Russian Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia. As Russia witnesses increasing control of the media by state authorities, Radio Svoboda has become a key forum for those who lack access to other means of free expression.

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