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Activist In Siberia Says He Fled Russia To Avoid Jail Amid Crackdown On Dissent

Russian opposition activist Lev Gyammer
Russian opposition activist Lev Gyammer

An opposition activist in Siberia says he has left Russia to avoid possible detention amid an ongoing crackdown on people and organizations linked to jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

Lev Gyammer, the former coordinator of the Protesting Kuzbass opposition movement in the city of Novokuznetsk, wrote on the VKontakte social network on October 5 that he is now "safe" in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi.

Gyammer wrote that he had decided to flee Russia because he could face charges of creating an extremist group.

Many opposition activists and politicians have left Russia in recent years amid an increasing crackdown on opposition groups and independent media across Russia.

Before working as a coordinator for Protesting Kuzbass in Novokuznetsk, Gyammer lived for several years in Moscow where he worked for groups linked to the now jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and several other organizations were labeled as extremist and banned in Russia earlier this year.

Navalny, who has been incarcerated since February, and several of his associates who are currently living abroad have been charged with creating an extremist group.

In his post, Gyammer said that the Investigative Committee last week released a statement saying that a new criminal probe had been launched into "the creation of 'an extremist community.'"

The investigation "targets all people who set up FBK and Navalny's teams between 2014-2021," he wrote, adding that many activists will most likely be persecuted as part of the new probe.

"It is painful. Russia is my home. My friends and my family are in that country. My mom was buried in that country. Starting today, I am living in Tbilisi," his post also reads.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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