Kremlin critic Gudkov leaves Russia fearing new arrest



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov speaks to the media after being released from custody in Moscow, Russia June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov said on Sunday he had left Russia after receiving warnings by people close to the Kremlin that he would be arrested if he stayed in the country.

A former member of the Russian parliament, Gudkov, 41, was detained by Russian law enforcement officials on Tuesday over allegations he failed to pay a debt on a rented property, which he denies.

He was released from custody on Thursday but remains a suspect in a criminal case. A group of Kremlin opponents, many of them allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, have fled the country due to the latest crackdown on the opposition after street rallies to demand Navalny’s release.

Gudkov said the true purpose of the probe was barring him from the September parliamentary election.

“I’m approaching Kyiv where I have long-planned meetings and TV appearances,” he posted on his Telegram account.

“Several sources close to the presidential administration circle said that if I do not leave the country, my fake criminal case would be taken further to the point of my arrest,” he said.

The Kremlin has said recent arrests of politicians such as Gudkov have nothing to do with politics, and denies trying to clear the field of political opponents.

Gudkov told Reuters on Sunday he would make a decision later about his further plans.

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