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Head Of Russian Rights Group Confirms She Has Fled Russia


Olga Romanova says she plans to return to Russia.

The director of a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization that defends the rights of prison inmates has confirmed that she fled Russia after a Federal Penitentiary Service official filed criminal charges against her.

The charges allege that Olga Romanova embezzled state funds.

Romanova published a post on Facebook on November 7 confirming that she left Russia in June after police searched the offices of her rights group, Rus Sidyashchaya (Russia Behind Bars).

Romanova said she could not embezzle state funds because her organization is not financed by the Russian government.

Rather, she said, her nongovernmental group operates on money obtained through fundraising events and from income earned by her own private company, RS.

Romanova said she continued to direct Rus Sidyashchaya from Germany, where she obtained employment in September.

She said she planned to return to Russia in the future.

Several Russian politicians, rights activists, and journalists have fled Russia recently in fear for their safety.

Kremlin critics say President Vladimir Putin's government uses police searches, criminal investigations, and other measures by law enforcement authorities to harass opponents and activists.

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