SOFIA --Russian opposition activist Yevgeny Chupov, who fled Russia in 2019 fearing possible prosecution for his political activities, has received refugee status in Bulgaria.
Chupov told RFE/RL on January 5 that Bulgaria’s State Agency on Refugees had ruled he, his wife, and four children could remain in Bulgaria.
According to Chupov, his initial application filed in August 2019 was rejected but the agency changed the ruling before his appeal was considered by the Sofia city administrative court.
Chupov and his family came to Bulgaria in 2019, saying that they feared persecution in Russia for Chupov's political activities.
The 41-year-old English teacher and blogger created a civil movement in Moscow in 2015 promoting local self-governance.
During the municipal elections campaign in 2019, Chupov and his movement supported a candidate for the Moscow city council, Ivan Zhdanov, the director and lawyer of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation.
He fled Russia at the time after police detained and questioned him at least twice.
Several sanctioned and unsanctioned rallies were held in Moscow over the summer of 2019 in protest of a decision by authorities to ban independent and opposition candidates from running in the municipal elections that were held in September that year.
Dozens of protesters have been fined or given jail sentences for organizing and participating in the unsanctioned rallies.
The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has declared several activists arrested in the case political prisoners.
Russian security forces have been criticized for their heavy-handed tactics during the rallies.