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Alexei Navalny Adviser Flees Russia, Fearing for His Safety

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Vladimir Milov fled Russia last month after colleagues were arrested, placed under house arrest or criminally investigated.

Video Transcript

SASHA INGBER: These days Alexei Navalny, imprisoned and on a hunger strike, isn't the only Russian opposition politician struggling under President Vladimir Putin.

JAKE SULLIVAN: We have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.

SASHA INGBER: Navalny's economic advisor, Vladimir Milov, fled Russia last month after seeing colleagues get arrested, placed under house arrest, or put under criminal investigation.

VLADIMIR MILOV: I narrowly escaped arrest myself because a lot of police were actually waiting for me at my doorstep, same as with others. I was simply warned because I have a lot of supporters who live in the same building.

SASHA INGBER: Milov tells Newsy he's facing multiple libel lawsuits filed by Putin's so-called "chef," Yevgeny Prigozhin. If the name sounds familiar, that's because the US sanctioned Prigozhin for financing the Russian troll farm that influenced US elections. And new sanctions were imposed on him just days ago.

VLADIMIR MILOV: That's about, I don't know, like, $300,000 altogether. I don't have that money, and I actually don't want to pay him a single penny, given who he is.

SASHA INGBER: Another blow-- last week the Russian government started trying to dismantle Navalny's network, seeking to designate three groups as extremists. That includes the Anti-Corruption foundation, which reported on Putin's billion-dollar personal palace. That could lead to criminal cases, penalties, and frozen finances. And the organization says the case has been classified as a state secret.

Moscow's repression isn't new to Milov. He used to work with another prominent Putin foe who was assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015. But Milov doesn't feel safe even outside Russia.

VLADIMIR MILOV: You cannot feel completely safe when we saw many examples that Putin's thugs can actually reach people across the globe. But we're not giving up the fight, regardless.

SASHA INGBER: Now in Lithuania, he plans to provide officials with evidence of how oligarchs in Putin's circle have contributed to corruption and a human rights crackdown.

VLADIMIR MILOV: This is really reminiscent of Stalin, period, with real mass repressions, with reports like over 12,000 people have been detained at mass rallies just within a couple of weeks. And this opposition movement that has emerged in Russia in the past few years is unprecedented. This will not stop us from doing what we do.

SASHA INGBER: From Washington, Sasha Ingber, Newsy.