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Top Navalny Ally Lyubov Sobol Reported to Have Fled Russia

Lyubov Sobol was given a court-ordered curfew and ban on leaving Moscow after being found guilty of inciting violations of coronavirus rules by calling for pro-Navalny rallies this winter. Sergei Karpukhin / TASS

Russian media have reported that Lyubov Sobol, a key ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, has fled Russia, reports that the lawyer and activist has not confirmed herself.

Sobol was last week sentenced to 1.5 years of “restricted freedom” after being found guilty of inciting violations of coronavirus rules by calling for pro-Navalny rallies this winter. The court-appointed punishment entails a nighttime curfew and a ban on leaving Moscow and takes effect 10 days after the sentencing.

“According to some reports, Sobol left for Istanbul,” Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying Sunday.

The state-run Ren TV broadcaster, also citing an unnamed source, claimed that the opposition activist flew to Istanbul via Vnukovo Airport on Saturday as a stopover toward an unknown location.

Sobol, 33, has not confirmed the reports on social media or in responses to The Moscow Times’ queries. 

Several other top Navalny allies have fled Russia in recent months to escape criminal prosecution amid what Kremlin critics describe as a campaign to wipe out dissent ahead of high-stakes parliamentary elections next month.

Interfax’s source warned that Sobol risks a real jail term by leaving due to her two convictions, including one year of community service in April for visiting the apartment of an alleged security agent implicated in Navalny’s poisoning.

“Neither conviction involved serving a sentence in a penal colony,” they were quoted as saying. 

“Now that she has violated current restrictions, the authorized body can ask the court to replace her sentence with a penal colony [sentence].”

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