The criminal case against Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, which was opened on Wednesday, hit the headlines in the central newspapers. He and his associate Konstantin Lebedev are accused of masterminding massive disorders. It was unclear for the whole day whether Udaltsov will be arrested and it was reported only by the evening that he was released on recognizance not the leave the city. Lebedev was left under arrest for two days.
The criminal case was opened against the oppositionists under an article for “the masterminding of massive disorders” that envisages up to ten years in prison, the Kommersant daily cited spokesman for the Russian Investigation Committee Vladimir Markin as saying. The detectives intended to detain another Left Front activist Leonid Razvozzhayev, but he was not found on Wednesday.
The newspaper recalled that the NTV film Anatomy of Protest-2 caused their criminal persecution. It was affirmed in the film that Udaltsov is planning several provocative acts in Russia and he will receive money for them from abroad.
Udaltsov actually became the first opposition leader, who is accused on the “political” article. Before this only Alexei Navalny was found a defendant of the criminal case, but the detectives accuse him of an economic crime. According to Solidarity member Ilya Yashin, in the future Udaltsov may be found a defendant in masterminding massive disorders on the Bolotnaya Square on May 6. Then the March of Millions authorized by the authorities grew into clashes with the police. “I assume that Udaltsov will be found involved in the Bolotnaya disorder criminal case, and then the detectives will begin to detain other opposition leaders,” Yashin said. According to him, opening a criminal case against Udaltsov, the authorities hoped to split and intimidate the protesting movement, but instead of this the criminal persecution for the Left Front leader will only add political scores to him and will help to consolidate the oppositionists around him.
According to Vladimir Markin, the expertise of the NTV film did not find any signs of editing in the episode, where Udaltsov and other suspects meet with chairman of the Georgian parliamentary committee for defence Givi Targamadze, the Vedomosti daily reported. Udaltsov and Lebedev deny their involvement in masterminding the disorders, but do not reject a meeting with Georgian citizens in Minsk last summer, Markin noted.
The film showed that at the meeting Targamadze promised 35,000 to Udaltsov every month, discussed the variants of involving the nationalists in the massive protests, the seizure of power in the Kaliningrad Region and the disorders in Kaliningrad, Vladivostok and other cities, financial aid (200 million dollars) from Russian bankers Andrei Borodin and Vladimir Antonov. Both bankers denied their involvement in these projects.
Udaltsov called the opening of a criminal case against him as “a new wave of repressions,” the Novye Izvestia daily reported. “This is arbitrariness and a provocative act, and I hope that the society will not keep silence and will react to this,” the newspaper reported. Director of the all-Russian movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomarev called the criminal case against the Left Front leader expected and not the last one against well-known oppositionists. “To my mind, this criminal case is a political manhunt. This is also confirmed by the fact how the situation over Sergei Udaltsov is presented to the society,” a public figure said with confidence.
The RBC daily turned for comments to lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky, who was participating in several trials against the National Bolshevik activists and in the criminal case over the massive disorders on the Manezh Square. He noted that he considers the accusations under an article for masterminding of disorders strange: the disorders should take place to sue for masterminding of the disorders, he believes. According to Agranovsky, the suspects under this article may be kept in custody for about a year, if people under investigation are at large, the criminal case can be investigated even for ten years, until the statutes of limitation expire.
Russia does not have a sweeping law practice on the article, under which Udaltsov is charged with, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily noted. For the last ten years only four cases over massive disorders (usually the prison mutinies are qualified this way) occurred in Moscow. The latest highly publicized case was the criminal case over the disorders on the Bolotnaya Square on May 6, under which 16 people are defendants and suspects, 13 of whom are being kept under arrest. Opposition leaders Ilya Yashin, Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov and others were interrogated as witnesses in the foresaid criminal case.