Russian Protest Leader May Face Up to 10 Years in Jail
Russian protest leader Sergei Udaltsov has been charged with plotting mass disorder on Friday and could face up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty.
"If anyone expected me to flee abroad, they were mistaken," Left Front leader Udaltsov, 35, said as he reported to investigators for questioning. "The Putin regime will be on trial," he wrote later on Twitter, as cited by RIA Novosti.
Udaltsov has helped organize mass protests against President Vladimir Putin's rule, was released on a pledge not to leave Moscow. His lawyer, Violetta Volkova, had said she expected her client to be taken into custody.
"The investigators are playing some kind of game," Udaltsov tweeted on Friday.
Media reports had speculated that Udaltsov, who had not been seen in public all week, could try to leave Russia before Friday's summons.
"Udaltsov was under close observation, but at one point the people trailing him vanished," Left Front activist Alexei Sakhnin told journalists outside the HQ of the Investigation Committee. "We were given a clear signal. They expected him to flee to some civilized country and for us quit the political arena."
RIA Novosti has reminded that the charges against Udaltsov stem from grainy footage aired by the pro-Kremlin NTV channel earlier this month. NTV said the clip showed Udaltsov and fellow Left Front members Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev meeting Georgian politician Givi Targamadze to discuss how to overthrow Putin. The documentary also alleged Udaltsov had considered bringing in Chechen fighters to assist with the plot.
Udaltsov says the footage is fake and that the documentary is part of a wave of oppression against protest leaders.
Lebedev, Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev have all been charged, and Lebedev was also taken into custody last week. Udaltsov, who has led protests against the almost 13-year-rule of Vladimir Putin, was released on a pledge not to leave Moscow.
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