Russian law enforcement authorities have widened their search for opposition figures involved in the violent May 6 protest rally last year, with a series of raids in at least four regional cities, activists said.
The raids were part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the violence that broke out when some 50,000 protesters gathered on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square for a previously authorized anti-Kremlin demonstration, an official statement posted on the Investigative Committee’s site said. At least 100 people were injured in clashes that broke out with the police.
Moscow officials of the Investigative Committee searched on Tuesday the home of Left Front activist Dmitry Rukavishnikov in the town of Ivanovo, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who is under house arrest in Moscow on charges of organizing mass unrest, posted in his Twitter.
On Monday, investigators raided the apartment of Novosibirsk activist Andrei Terekhin over his role in organizing a protest camp in a local forest and his alleged association with Udaltsov.
“They rang the doorbell at 7 a.m. when my girlfriend and I were asleep. I went to see who it was, it was a group of people in plainclothes, saying they were the police. I asked them for ten minutes to get dressed, but in about five minutes masked men with machine guns broke the [first floor] window of our kitchen,” Terekhin told Gazeta.ru.
His computer and tablet were confiscated, and he and his girlfriend were taken in for questioning but released on the same day.
Investigators on Monday also raided the Oryol home of rights activist Dmitry Krayukhin as part of the investigation into the Bolotnaya riots. Officers were searching for a suitcase that they believed contained documents evidencing plans for a mass uprising, according to an official statement from the Agora rights group cited by Gazeta.ru.
Searches were also reported in the central Russian town of Voronezh.
The Investigative Committee confirmed that the activists who had met with Udaltsov and others being investigated for attempting to organize a mass uprising were searched and questioned in Novosibirsk and Oryol.
Authorities launched a crackdown on activists in June last year, arresting at least a dozen people after a series of similar raids on their homes. A documentary aired on NTV showed footage that it claimed was evidence that the riots were part of an attempted uprising against the government being organized by Udaltsov. Udaltsov and two other activists were issued charges in October.
One of the activists, Leonid Razvozzhayev, accused Russian security officials of kidnapping him in Kiev and forcing him to confess to the charges. Udaltsov was placed under house arrest, while Razvozzhayev remains in custody.
Another protest leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, was charged with unrelated counts of embezzlement in July. His case is expected to go to court later this spring.