- After having fled to Ukraine seeking political asylum, a Russian opposition
activist has been arrested in Kiev, brought to Moscow on a private jet and
sentenced in the absence of his lawyers to two months in prison on charges of
of mass disorder" intent on overthrowing power in Russia. The
operation against Leonid Razvozzhaev, a member of the Left Front (the most
radical fringe of the opposition to Vladimir Putin) immediately provoked comparisons
to KGB methods, and comes as part of a wider investigation initiated by the
authorities against activists at the forefront of anti-government
demonstrations last year.
Razvozzhaev had been indicted in absentia for "organizing mass disorder" after the "Anatomy of a protest-2" documentary, broadcast by pro-Kremlin NTV October 5, which portrayed him and his companions engaged in the preparation of a coup in Russia with the help of lenders in Georgia and Great Britain.
The information contained in the controversial film - which uses recordings with hidden cameras - has led authorities to officially open an investigation on 17 October. Konstantin Lebedev, a prominent figure of the Left Front, was sentenced to two months in prison on the same charges of Razvozzhaev, while the leader of the movement, Sergei Udaltsov, was questioned for hours and then released, but with a ban on leaving the country. The incident has triggered a protest of human rights defenders, who immediately spoke of " Stalin-style repression " with searches in the middle of the night in the homes of the accused and their relatives.
"Razvozzhaev was taken to court in Moscow Basmanny not by police, but by men in civilian clothes, probably FSB agents" (Russian secret services, heirs to the KGB), a source close to ' activist told the online newspaper Gazeta.ru. Ilya Ponomarev, a member of A Just Russia party and who had hired Razvozzhaev as her aide, said that the transfer from Kiev took place on a private jet. The lawyer Violetta Volkova, told the news agency Itar-Tass that the decision on the arrest of his client was taken by judges "behind closed doors", without even allowing the presence of lawyers.
Officially ended in the federal list of most wanted October 19, Razvozzhaev, according to some colleagues, went to Ukraine to seek asylum, but he did not have time. On social networks and blogs, the case has raised a storm of controversy. Against the Kremlin, that the judicial and legislative bodies apparently engaged in a real "campaign of repression" of dissent, according to parliamentarian Gennady Gudkov, but also against Ukraine, which handed Razvozzhaev back to Moscow. On his Facebook page, the political scientist Gleb Pavlosky writes: "This is bad for Razvozzhaev. Kiev is not a place for refugees. Nadezhda Mandelstam had already advised us not to try the Ukrainian defense." The reference is to the wife of the poet Osip Mandelstam, a victim of Stalin's purges.
Meanwhile, the most wanted list in the investigation seems destined to grow. According to the newspaper Kommersant, the investigators are already on the trail of Konstantin Kosyakin, another member of the Left Front. If brought to trial and convicted, the activist faces up to 10 years in prison.