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© RIA Novosti. Pavel Lysizin

Supreme Court backs wiretapping Kremlin critic

by at 14/12/2012 15:08

The Supreme Court recognized as lawful the wiretapping of a regional opposition member, Maxim Petlin, on Thursday, upholding earlier decisions made by a court in Yekaterinburg.

The court ruled that spying on Petlin, now Yekaterinburg head of the opposition party Yabloko, and hacking into his phone was lawful, since he had taken part in rallies staged by the liberal Solidarnost movement.

In particular, Petlin participated in the monthly Strategy 31 protest, where calls against extending the powers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, were heard. Strategy 31 is named for article 31 of the Constitution, which grants the right to peaceful assembly.

A lower court in Yekaterinburg allowed “special investigative activities” due to signs of “public calls for extremist actions” detected in his words, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, published by Petlin on his blog.

The records from his phone were found among evidence in an extortion case opened against him in 2011 and which he called trumped-up.  

Sergei Mitrokhin, Yabloko’s national leader, was sure the case would become a precedent for the whole judicial system and result in a new period of persecution of political activists, Vedomosti reported.

“Now the Supreme Court’s rulings are no different from those issued in the 1930s,” he told the BBC Russian Service, comparing the Kremlin’s crackdown on opposition with Stalin-era purges.

The FSB refused to provide comment on the matter, Vedomosti reported.

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