7 Jun 2021 15:04

Kremlin not following case of opposition activist Gudkov - Peskov

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) - The Kremlin is not following the case of opposition activist Dmitry Gudkov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Journalists asked Peskov whether the Kremlin is monitoring "the case and Gudkov's departure."

"No, we're not monitoring either the case or the departure of Gudkov," Peskov said.

Journalists also asked whether the Russian president is concerned about "the departure of politicians from the country over fears of possible criminal prosecution."

"No, absolutely not. Whenever a departure is legal, any citizen can do that, unless he or she has any encumbrances or restrictions on their rights. Anyone can leave the country and either come back or not. This is an absolutely free process," Peskov said.

It was reported earlier that opposition activist and former State Duma deputy Gudkov left Russia on Sunday night after a criminal case on charges of inflicting property damage was opened.

"My decision [to leave the country] was supported by my relatives and the people close to me, who also received solid information about threats and risks," Gudkov said on Telegram, adding that he was approaching Kyiv.

Gudkov told Interfax he would later move from Kyiv to Varna, Bulgaria, where his parents are staying.

"I will share my further plans later," Gudkov told Interfax.

Gudkov was detained last Tuesday as part of a criminal case on charges of inflicting property damage by fraud or betrayal of trust. At least five searches were conducted, including at the opposition activist's country house and apartment in Moscow, before he was detained as part of the criminal case.

Gudkov's aunt, Irina Yermilova, was also detained as a suspect.

According to the defense team, the case is related to failure by Yermilova's company to pay more than one million rubles in overdue non-residential premises rent in 2015-2017. The plaintiff is the Moscow City Property Department, which owns the premises, the lawyers said.

Gudkov and Yermilova have denied any wrongdoing. Gudkov said the criminal case that led to his detention concerns a company belonging to his parents, which he has nothing to do with.

Gudkov was released 48 hours after his detention.

Lawyer Mikhail Biryukov told Interfax that Gudkov remains a suspect in the criminal case and was released on his own recognizance.

Meanwhile, Moscow's Tverskoi District Court declined a police motion for a ban on certain activities by Yermilova and let her go without a measure of restraint.

An informed source told Interfax that in leaving Russia, Gudkov breached his recognizance not to leave, and another measure of restraint, including arrest, might be imposed on him in absentia in the near future.

"Gudkov's departure breaches his recognizance not to leave, so investigators may soon ask a court for another measure of restraint, up to his arrest in absentia," the source said.

"He will also be placed on the wanted list," the source said.

Interfax has not obtained official comments from law enforcement agencies yet.

Meanwhile, Biryukov told Interfax that his client left Russia on lawful grounds.

"He has breached nothing, as there is no measure of restraint, just an obligation to appear before an investigator. Therefore, he had every right to cross the border," Biryukov said.

The lawyer noted that an investigator has not summoned Gudkov, so, "I see no reason why he should be placed on a wanted list or a measure of restraint should be imposed on him."