A second former head of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s regional headquarters has fled Russia following the jailing on retroactive “extremist” charges of one of his colleagues, he said Thursday.
Sergei Boyko headed Navalny’s headquarters in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, where he also served as city council deputy. Boyko said his decision not to return to Russia from abroad was motivated by the jailing of Liliya Chanysheva, the ex-head of Navalny’s Ufa headquarters.
“Change Ufa to Novosibirsk in Liliya Chanysheva’s case file and everything else fits word for word to ensure [my jailing],” Boyko tweeted, adding that he understands lawmakers have already launched criminal proceedings against him.
“Since I do not see a single argument for how my return and placement in a pre-trial detention center will help Russian society cope with the usurpation of power by the invaders, in the near future [my wife Kristina] and I decided not to return to the country,” he said.
Boyko announced his decision in soon after Irina Fatyanova, the former head of Navalny’s St. Petersburg headquarters said that she had also fled Russia.
Regional Navalny coordinators like Chanysheva, Fatyanova and Boyko are subject to criminal charges for creating an “extremist” organization after a court outlawed Navalny’s groups — both peaceful opposition movements — in June.
Several leading Navalny allies have resettled in the Baltics and the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia since his groups were banned.
Critics attribute these exits, as well of those of other prominent Kremlin critics, to what they call Russia’s widening crackdown on independent voices that started ahead of September's parliamentary elections, in which the increasingly unpopular pro-Kremlin ruling party kept its legislative majority.
Navalny was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in February on old fraud charges he calls politically motivated after surviving a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin. His arrest upon returning to Russia from recovery in Germany helped spark nationwide protests during which thousands were detained.