MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russian opposition figurehead Sergei Udaltsov said he was ready to pay a fine he was given for striking a pro-government activist – with 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of small change collected by supporters.
“I haven’t managed to count it up yet, I barely managed to carry the sack in. I don’t yet know exactly how much is in it,” he said.
A court found Udaltsov guilty in June of striking Anna Pozdnyakova, a journalist and activist with the youth wing of the ruling United Russia party, Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard), and fined him 35,000 rubles ($1,130). Udaltsov said the verdict was unlawful and the case against him was concocted, and said he would take the case to the Supreme Court or if need be the European Court of Human Rights.
“[Paying with small change] will be a symbolic act of contempt for this system which tries people illegally,” he said.
Udaltsov, the leader of the Left Front party, said he was obliged to pay the fine in order to avoid harsher punishment, perhaps even incarceration.
He said he would continue collecting donations for the fine next Monday at Moscow’s Zavtra club.
Udaltsov, who rose to prominence during the mass demonstrations against alleged vote fraud that began one year ago, is currently charged in a separate case with plotting mass disorder and faces up to ten years behind bars if found guilty. He is currently at liberty under a pledge not to leave Moscow.