Russian Opposition Leader Investigated

Posted October 17th, 2012 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Russian authorities have launched a criminal case against opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, accusing him of plotting to ignite mass riots.

Police arrested Udaltsov Wednesday and searched his Moscow apartment. They freed him on bail and ordered him to stay in the Russian capital.

Russia's Investigative Committee opened the probe a week after a documentary on state-run NTV television appeared to show Udaltsov meeting with Georgian officials and plotting to overthrow the Russian government.

Udaltsov has said he frequently meets with foreign officials as part of his normal routine as a politician. But he denies planning violence. A senior member of the Georgian parliament who was seen in the documentary, Givi Targamadze, denies meeting Udaltsov.

Udaltsov is leader of the opposition Left Front party. He is known for his shaved head, leather jackets, and Stalin t-shirts. He has also been arrested about 100 times for organizing anti-Putin marches.

Russian authorities say this case is a warning to those who think they can organize riots and plan acts of terror while escaping punishment.

A leader of the Other Russia opposition coalition, Sergei Ezhov, tells VOA that the Udaltsov case is part of a cycle of repression by Russian authorities as they look for new ways to oppress the opposition.