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.