Kremlin critic freed but remains suspect

·1-min read

Police in Moscow have released prominent Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov from custody but have kept him as a suspect in a criminal case that prompted his arrest two days ago, his lawyers say.

The 41-year-old former member of parliament was detained on Tuesday amid a crackdown on the Kremlin's political opponents that comes before parliamentary elections in September.

He was suspected of failing to pay a debt on a rented property dating from 2015-17, according to state media. His father, Gennady Gudkov, has said property was in no way linked to his son.

Gudkov could face up to five years jail if charged and found guilty.

A court was expected to consider the terms of his pre-trial custody on Thursday but the hearing did not take place and he was instead released as 48 hours had elapsed since his arrest.

His aunt, Irina Ermilova, who was also a suspect in the case, was released after appearing at her hearing.

Russia's opposition has accused authorities of trying to smother its activities before lower house elections in September.

A court is expected to meet next week to consider banning jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's movement as "extremist".

Last Monday, opposition activist Andrei Pivovarov was taken off a flight bound for Poland and jailed for two months pending trial for allegedly breaking Russia's law against "undesirable" organisations.

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