MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian authorities on Monday briefly detained a 72-year-old liberal politician who recently returned to Moscow from abroad, the latest move in a relentless crackdown on dissent amid Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.
Leonid Gozman was detained after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.
Gozman has been accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit. If found guilty, Gozman could be sentenced to a fine or community work.
Gozman notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within required time.
Gozman, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s campaign in Ukraine, left Russia when it started but returned in June in what he has described as a “moral” choice.
The Russian Justice Ministry has listed him as a “foreign agent,” a description that carries a strong pejorative meaning and implies additional government scrutiny.
Immediately after meeting with investigators Monday, Gozman was detained on the Moscow subway by police who told him he was on the federal arrest warrant. The politician was later released, but the criminal case against him is still pending.
Speaking after being released Monday, Gozman said the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest after he hadn’t responded to summons that have been sent to his old address. He added that he fears being handed a prison term.
“I’m 72. Russian prison is not for my age. I won’t survive it,” he said.
Still, Gozman said he doesn’t want to leave.
“Our country is conducting horrible foreign and domestic policies,” he said. “But it’s our country, we have been born and brought up here. My wife and I, we have done a lot for the country, and we don’t want to leave.”