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Russian Activist Reportedly Asks For Political Asylum in Ukraine, Tried In Absentia

Sergei Gavrilov attends a court hearing in Moscow in May.
Sergei Gavrilov attends a court hearing in Moscow in May.

A trial in absentia was held on October 24 in a Moscow court, which issued an arrest warrant for Sergei Gavrilov, 26, who is accused of co-founding an extremist group to overthrow the Russian government and who has reportedly asked for political asylum in Ukraine.

He had been subjected to house arrest in Moscow but removed his electronic monitoring bracelet three days ago, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) deputy director Valery Maksimenko said on October 24, while confirming that the suspect had fled.

Russian media reports have cited sources in law enforcement as saying that Gavrilov entered Ukraine via Belarus on October 21, where he asked for political asylum.

Ukraine's State Border Service said earlier that a Russian citizen had asked for political asylum on October 21.

Gavrilov is a member of the New Greatness Moscow youth activist group, and along with seven other members is on trial on charges of creating an extremist organization.

Four co-defendants are in pretrial detention, while Gavrilov and three others are under house arrest.

The group's members were arrested in March 2018. One of the defendants, Anna Pavlikova, was 17 at the time of her arrest. She spent several months under house arrest, which sparked mass protests in Moscow and other cities.

Those charged say they had turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement after the move was proposed by one of their members.

Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

In October, peaceful demonstrations to support members of the group were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities across Russia. Police detained dozens of protesters.

In April, one of the members of the group, Pavel Rebrovsky, was sentenced to 29 months in prison. However, his sentence was annulled later by a court of appeals and his possible retrial is pending.

Earlier, another member of the group, Rustam Rustamov, received a suspended 18-month prison sentence.

Both pleaded guilty and cut deals with investigators.

With reporting by TASS and RBK

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