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Navalny Supporter Says Netherlands Has Granted Her Political Asylum

Olga Kuznetsova worked as a volunteer for Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s headquarters in Saratov. (file photo)

A Russian woman who worked with supporters of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in the central city of Saratov says she has received political asylum in the Netherlands.

Olga Kuznetsova wrote on Instagram on December 15 that she had obtained asylum but didn’t say when. It was not clear when she left Russia.

Kuznetsova worked as a volunteer for a group of Navalny's supporters in Saratov. She said that officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the summer of 2020 tried to recruit her as an informant. When she refused, she was threatened with criminal prosecution.

Later that year law enforcement officers searched her home. Her bank accounts were then frozen, and she was questioned after she took part in a seminar organized by the pro-democracy organization Open Russia.

Many of Navalny’s former associates have fled the country fearing arrest after a Moscow court in June labeled all organizations associated with him as extremist.

Last week, Aleksandr Chernikov, the former head of Navalny's network of regional campaign groups in Russia's far-western exclave of Kaliningrad, said that he and his family were in the United States, where they had asked for political asylum.

According to Chernikov, Russian investigators questioned him twice in "a case concerning extremism" after the June ruling, which effectively outlaws all organizations associated with Navalny.

In October, the former head of Navalny's network of regional campaign groups in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Sergei Boiko, who is also a member of the Novosibirsk City Council, wrote on Twitter that he and his family would not return to Russia from a business trip to an unspecified country because he feared persecution.​

Boiko said he decided not to return to Russia after the arrest of the former chief of Navalny’s support group in the city of Ufa, Lilia Chanysheva.

Chanysheva was arrested in November in the Bashkortostan on extremism charges. She was later transferred to a detention center in Moscow, where she is expected to remain in pretrial detention until at least January 9.​

In another case last month, the chief of Navalny's network of regional campaign groups in St. Petersburg, Irina Fatyanova, said she had left Russia for an unspecified country. Fatyanova also said that she decided to leave Russia after the arrest of Chanysheva.

Navalny has been in prison since February, while several of his other associates have been charged with establishing an extremist group.