Russia arrests prominent opposition figure amid clampdown on critics
Russian authorities Tuesday arrested prominent opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov amid a broader clampdown by the Kremlin against high-profile critics.
Associates of Gudkov said on his Telegram page that he and his aunt were both being detained. His arrest comes after law enforcement raided his country home. The homes of at least two of his associates were also reportedly searched.
Gudkov was reportedly detained over claims he did not pay a debt he owed under a lease agreement he signed for a non-residential building from 2015 to 2017.
“I don’t know the formal reason for this,” Gudkov wrote earlier Tuesday on Telegram. “But the real (reason) is clear.”
Gudkov’s detention is just part of a broader effort by the Kremlin to crack down on dissidents. Among the highest profile critics who have been detained is Alexander Navalny, a leader of the opposition movement against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian authorities also aided the apartment of opposition activist Andrei Pivovarov Tuesday, according to Reuters. Pivovarov was removed from a flight that was about to take to Poland from St. Petersburg on Monday.
The crackdown has come ahead of parliamentary elections in September.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, another Kremlin critic, said Tuesday that Putin is “trying to sanitize” political opposition before voters head to the polls later this year.
“Any candidates that the government isn’t happy with will simply not be allowed to run,” he said, adding that the Kremlin is looking to curtail the prospect of widespread protests after the September vote.