Former Russian opposition MP Dmitri Gudkov of 41 years and son of the also former legislator and charismatic fighter against abuses by the authorities, Evgueni Gudkov, has announced that he is leaving Russia to take refuge for the moment in neighboring Ukraine and perhaps later settle in Bulgaria. Gudkov believes that, although he was released without charge last Thursday, “The criminal process is still ongoing” and he fears that “false cases” may be opened against him.
In his Telegram account, Gudkov explains that he received warnings from sources close to the Kremlin that, if he continued in Russia, he could be arrested and prosecuted. Speaking to Echo Moscow radio, the Russian opponent interprets such pressure as the desire of the Russian Presidency to “Prevent me from running for the legislative elections next September, and force me to leave the country until voting day”. Gudkov says he hopes that his exile “will diminish the zeal of the gendarmes.” He also states that “my decision has been supported by my family and friends, who have also received information about threats and risks.”
The former MP was arrested last Tuesday in Moscow after a police search of his home and office. The arrest was motivated by an alleged non-payment of the lease of a premises in 2015, an accusation that he and his surroundings understood as “rigged” and whose only real objective, according to them, is that he does not present his candidacy for the September elections or make campaign in favor of any other opposition candidate. However, Gudkov was released without charge on Thursday, allowing him to flee, leaving his wife and children in Moscow for the time being.
On the same day, June 1, Andréi Pivovárov was also arrested, when he was already inside the plane with the intention of flying to Warsaw. from Pulkovo Airport (St. Petersburg), and he will remain in jail until his trial. Pivovárov was the leader of the NGO Open Russia, created by the former boss of the Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The organization ceased operations last month after being declared “undesirable” by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office for carrying out activities of a political nature financed from abroad. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses the NGO and Pivovárov of having engaged in “instigating protests and destabilizing the internal situation in Russia, thus endangering the constitutional foundations and security of the country.”