Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov has fled his country because he says he fears political persecution if he stays.
Russian Investigative Committee this year invited Kasparov for questioning several times during the investigation of the so-called Bolotnaya Case over the violent anti-government rally last May. Kasparov has ignored these subpoenas. Kasparov also published his statement made to his personal website.
A Moscow court started hearings of the Bolotnaya Case Thursday. Twelve opposition activists have been detained on allegations of attacking police during the march in downtown Moscow.
Kasparov’s departures is just the latest in a string of prominent Russian who have left the country because they fear prosecution. In a statement posted later on his website, Kasparov insisted he had not emigrated permanently from Russia.
“I kept traveling back and forth until late February, where it became clear that I might be part of this ongoing investigation of the activities of the political protesters,” Kasparov told a press conference at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, where he was receiving an award.
Kasparov was ranked the number one chess player in the world for a record 20 years, but retired from professional chess in 2005. In recent years Kasparov, who famously defeated IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in a series of chess matches in 1996, had become a strident opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. He co-founded a pro-democracy party and has been a prominent speaker at anti-Putin rallies that have been held over the past year and a half.