76-year-old Russian activist flees to Ukraine for asylum

AFP

Russian pensioner Vladimir Ionov holds a banner reading "Putin - enemy of Russia" during a demonstration in central Moscow, July 18, 2013.

76-year-old Russian activist flees to Ukraine for asylum


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The 76-year-old Vladimir Ionov, a regular lone protester in Moscow, who was under prosecution by the Russian authorities for regularly protesting in public against Putin and Russia’s authoritarian drive, has fled to Ukraine, where he will seek political asylum, writes the Russian Liberal website Grani.ru.

Last month prosecutors requested that Ionov receive a three-year suspended sentence.

Ionov is the first person to face prosecution under strict new Russian legislation that can result in prison terms for those who repeatedly attend unsanctioned demonstrations.

In October, Ionov was assaulted by members of a pro-government group while demonstrating near the Kremlin. The gang threw acid into his face and doused him with a white powder as he held up an anti-Putin placard just off Red Square. He was holding a sign reading “If You Have Putin, You Don’t Need A Mind”.

Ionov’s sentencing was postponed until December 23 after he was hospitalised with heart issues on December 7.

Under the terms imposed by the court on November 25, Ionov was barred from leaving Moscow or attending public events.

Having been stripped of his passport, Ionov was forced to enter Ukraine illegally. He will ask for asylum, but is convinced he will be able to return to Russia soon.

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