Kasparov fears arrest if he returns to Russia

6/6/2013 – Garry Kasparov has declared he will not return to Russia. He fears he will be targeted in a wave of investigations into members of the opposition. Currently in Geneva receiving a human rights prize; Kasparov said, via an audio recording on his website, that if he returned to Moscow, he had “serious doubts” he may not be able to leave again. Reports from the international media.

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Chess legend Garry Kasparov says he is staying out of Russia,
as 12 protesters face long prison terms over anti-Putin demonstrations.

The former world chess champion has in recent years become an impassioned campaigner against the rule of President Vladimir Putin and took part in some of the mass opposition street protests against his rule. He was arrested last year for protesting outside the court when Pussy Riot members were on trial.

Kasparov now says he fears he could be investigated as part of a crackdown on the opposition if he returns home. "I kept travelling back and forth until late February when it became clear that I might be part of this ongoing investigation of the activities of the political protesters," Mr Kasparov said in Geneva on Wednesday, according to an audio recording posted on his website. "Right now, I have serious doubts that if I return to Moscow I may not be able to travel back. So for the time being I refrain from returning to Russia."

Read the full story in Sky News

Euronews report on Kasparov's decision: click to view the video

A prominent voice of opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kasparov, had previously been arrested for taking part in anti-government demonstrations. His announcement comes as 12 protesters who took part in an anti-Putin rally in June 2012 are due in court. The defendants are charged with mass disorder and violence against the police and could face up to eight years in jail.


Kasparov on Facebook

One simple question at a Geneva press conference has set off a firestorm of conjecture about my not returning Russia, so I want to set the story straight myself! Russia is and will always be my country. I am still traveling on a Russian passport, and though I was born in the USSR, and have spent most of my adult life traveling constantly, Russia is my home even when I am not able to be there. I refuse to allow Putin and his gang define Russia. They are a temporary disease that the Russian immune system will soon fight off.

I am doing everything I can to help win that fight. Before I retired from chess I represented Russia fighting battles on the chessboard around the world. I have spent years marching in the streets against Putin, speaking at rallies, and facing the police. Today I am still representing Russia and fighting harder than ever in America and Europe to bring international sanctions against the criminals and thugs in the Kremlin. I have had hundreds of meetings and appearances to promote such legislation, and the US has adopted the Magnitsky Act and Europe is increasingly open to doing the same. Such laws attack Putin's power at its foundation: the loyalty of his gang that is based on the protection he provides so they can enjoy their stolen riches abroad. Putin is at the center of the web, but the fight for human rights is a global one and it is critical to both assist and to seek assistance from allies abroad.

Meanwhile, Putin is cracking down harder than ever and is showing he is willing to create a new generation of political prisoners unseen since the days of Stalin. I have already been "invited" to speak to prosecutors and such invitations have a way, at a minimum, of limiting ones freedom of movement. Adding another victim to the regime's list will not do much good. I will not casually put myself at the mercy of the investigative office of Alexander Bastrykin, who deserves to be the top Russian official on the Magnitsky List himself!

Please, let no one doubt my commitment to the cause of a free and strong Russia, or doubt for one moment that I am working constantly to achieve that goal. I have dedicated my life to my human rights activities and my education programs and it is impossible to imagine I would be allowed to continue this work inside Russia today. Many of my friends in the opposition are risking their lives and their security every day and they deserve the full attention and protection of the global community and bringing this support is part of my efforts. I am present; I am in touch on a daily basis with what is happening with the opposition, and I will do whatever I can to support my colleagues and my compatriots until Putin and his cronies are gone for good.

Garry Kasparov UN Press Conference, June 4, 2013 - Hosted by UN Watch

Garry Kasparov is currently in Geneva to receive the UN Watch Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award tomorrow at the League of Nations Hall. On Tuesday gave an hour-long press conference at the United Nations on his experience with human, civil, and political rights abuses in Russia. An audio-only video of the talk is below, and a transcript will be added if it becomes available.

Addendum: news articles (at 21:00h MEST)

Since publication of our initial "breaking news" report there have been a large number of stories on Kasparov's situation in the internation press – many of them made up in headline fashion. Here is a sample of articles posted online, a list that is growing by the hour.

Clicking on any of the screen captures above will take you to the stories. Below are further links to international articles – pick a language...

We cannot resist mentioning a joke that is making the rounds in Russia and the Internet: the only way Vladimir Putin could think of getting Kasparov out of the news was to announce his divorce from wife Lyudmila a few hours after the Kasparov story broke...


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