RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
The former press secretary of the Melekes Orthodox eparchy in Russia's Ulyanovsk region, Georgy Sukhobsky, told the Mozhem Obyasnit (We Can Explain) Telegram-channel on February 7 that he left Russia in late January after receiving threatening letters over his critical statements about a bishop who fired him three months earlier for his open support of Navalny.
Sukhobsky lost his job after he congratulated Navalny on social media for winning the European Union's Sakharov human rights prize last year.
"When [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's regime falls, I plan to return and even serve as a cleric, if there is such an opportunity," Sukhobsky said to the Telegram channel, adding that he had chosen Poland because he has Polish roots and is fluent in Polish.
Many of Navalny’s associates and supporters have left Russia in recent months amid a crackdown by the Kremlin on those around Putin's most-vocal critic.
Navalny himself was arrested in January last year upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin -- accusations that Russian officials reject.
He currently is serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he and international courts have called into question.
Last June, the Moscow City Court designated all organizations linked to Navalny as extremist, preventing people associated with the anti-corruption campaigner and his network of regional offices across Russia from seeking public office.
The ruling against his organizations also carries possible lengthy prison terms for activists who have worked with them.
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