Navalny Urges Associates Who Have Fled Russia To Continue Anti-Corruption Work From Abroad

Russian opposition politicians Ivan Zhdanov (left to right), Lyubov Sobol, and Aleksei Navalny attend a rally in 2020 to mark the fifth anniversary of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's assassination.

Imprisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny says his supporters who have left Russia in the face of growing repression can continue their efforts to oppose the Russian government from abroad.

"We have not emigrated but have been forced to temporarily change the location of our office," Navalny wrote in a letter to his employees and associates published by the Latvia-based independent news site Meduza on October 13.

Navalny urged his supporters not to think about what harm may come to him when they publish materials and investigations.

"Publish. Be careful. Work without looking back. We are not negotiating with the hostage-taking terrorists," Navalny said in the letter.

Navalny said that leading members of his organizations, including Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov, who are among several Navalny associates who have fled the country this year, had rebuilt the infrastructure of his groups abroad.

He thanked Volkov and Zhdanov along with Lyubov Sobol, Maria Pevchikh, and others for being able to preserve the infrastructure of his team under pressure. He also asked supporters who were forced to leave Russia not to think that they are "foreign opposition" but to continue working for the good of the country.

"It is not yet clear what kind of animal we will become, but definitely beautiful. And fast. And brave. And with sharp teeth," Navalny said.

Navalny's letter also gave a renewed assessment of his voting system's success in the September parliamentary elections, which he said "gouged" the United Russia party.

But Navalny also admitted that the Russian authorities used every opportunity to stop his Smart Voting strategy, and they "basically succeeded." However, he said the Russian leadership will pay a great price for this.

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

Navalny is one of the most prominent opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was arrested in Moscow in January after returning from Germany, where he was treated for a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning.

He and his supporters say the poisoning was carried out by Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives at the behest of Putin in retribution for Navalny's political activities. The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident.

In February, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of a suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of Navalny's suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was then replaced with a real prison term.

SEE ALSO: Researcher Says Raw Voting Data Points To Massive Fraud In United Russia's Duma Victory

A Moscow court in June declared Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) political network "extremist," but its members pledged to continue their efforts to campaign for change and expose corruption in the upper echelons of power.

The Moscow City Court ruling prevents people associated with the FBK from and his collection of regional political offices from seeking public office.

Putin, meanwhile, on October 13 said that Navalny and other opposition figures were being held in prison for breaking laws, not for their political activities.

"They have been repeatedly forgiven for their violations of the law, but at some point there had to be consequences," Putin told international attendees at Russian Energy Week.

With reporting by dpa and Meduza