Udaltsov Calls for Pickets Over Aide’s Detention

Udaltsov Calls for Pickets Over Aide’s Detention

Published: October 18, 2012 (Issue # 1731)

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Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov addressing supporters after being released from detention for resisting police during an anti-Putin rally in May.

MOSCOW – Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who investigators suspect of plotting mass riots on Russian soil, called on supporters to picket law enforcement agencies on Thursday in support of his assistant charged in the same case.

“We must struggle to free Lebedev,” Udaltsov told Interfax on Thursday, referring to his aide Konstantin Lebedev, who investigators detained for 48 hours Wednesday and formally charged with preparing to organize mass riots a day later.

Lebedev denies his guilt and has refused to answer questions in connection with the charges, investigators said in a statement on their website. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Investigators had not charged Udaltsov as of lunchtime Thursday.

Udaltsov said the pickets would take place outside city police headquarters at 38 Ulitsa Petrovka and the Investigative Committee building at 2 Tekhnichesky Pereulok.

The pickets come as media reports said the opposition could delay elections to its Coordination Council scheduled for Saturday so as to hold a rally in support of Udaltsov and his colleagues.

“We originally planned to dedicate [a rally] to elections to the opposition’s Coordination Council,” Boris Nemtsov, formerly a deputy prime minister and now an opposition leader, wrote on Facebook.

“But now the main thing is stopping repression. And the slogan ‘Hands off Udaltsov and his comrades’ is most important.”

Referring to events a day earlier, Udaltsov said Thursday that he was grateful to those who showed support while investigators were searching his flat and to others who waited for his release late in the evening from the Investigative Committee building, where he was being questioned.

“My release is in large measure due to the efforts of these people,” the protest organizer said.

On Wednesday, investigators announced that they had opened a criminal case against Udaltsov, Lebedev and Leonid Razvozzhayev, an aide to Just Russia lawmaker Ilya Ponomaryov, on charges of planning mass riots.

While investigators quickly tracked down Udaltsov and Lebedev and led them away for questioning, investigators were unable to immediately determine the whereabouts of Razvozzhayev.

As evidence for their claims against the trio, investigators cited hidden-camera footage obtained by NTV reporters and included in the Oct. 5 broadcast of “Anatomy of a Protest 2,” the latest mudslinging film by the channel known for attacking Kremlin foes.

NTV said that the footage showed the three opposition activists meeting with senior Georgian officials in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, in June and that during the meeting they received instructions on how to orchestrate riots.

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