Open Russia Deputy Head Leaves Country, Citing Police Pressure

Ilya Novikov, a deputy head of the Open Russia civic movement, says he has “temporarily” left Russia amid what he describes as “large-scale persecutions against those engaged in any political action.”

Novikov wrote on social network VKontakte on June 29 that he had left to an unidentified country in Europe following “constant attempts by police to conduct searches” at his workplace.

He also said the authorities were trying to punish him for his political activities and prevent him from criticizing the government.

Novikov is also the head of Open Russia’s Tatarstan office.

Open Russia was established by exiled former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In April, the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office declared Open Russia "undesirable” and accused the nongovernmental organization of conducting antigovernment activities.

After that, rights watchdog Amnesty International accused the Russian authorities of laying the groundwork to completely ban the group from Russia.

Once Russia's wealthiest tycoon, Khodorkovsky served 10 years in Russian prisons after being convicted of tax evasion and other charges widely seen as politically motivated.