The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against the Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov and a number of other opposition leaders into preparations for mass riots, the Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.
"A criminal case was opened on charges provided by Articles 30 and 212 of the Russian Criminal Code (preparations for mass riots)," Markin said.
Later members of a Russian Interior Ministry special taskforce took Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov out of his apartment and escorted him to a van on Wednesday.
"This is arbitrariness and a provocation, and I hope the public will not keep silent and will react somehow," Udaltsov said on his way to the van, which later took him to the Investigative Committee for questioning. He also described as provocative a search conducted at his apartment.
The criminal case was opened as a result of a check carried out following the controversial "Anatomy of Protest 2" movie, he said.
"Searches are being conducted at the suspect's premises," Markin said.
Other suspects in the criminal case include Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev.
Experts examined the "Anatomy of Protest 2" movie aired by the NTV channel as part of the check. "The film does not have any trace of video editing. It was established that the voice heard in the "Anatomy of Protest 2" film, including shot by hidden camera, is the one of Udaltsov. The meeting that is shown in the movie took place in June 2012 in an apartment in Minsk, Belarus," Markin said.
"Chairman of the Georgian parliamentary committee for defense and security Givi Targamadze, Georgian consul to Moldova Mikhail Iashvili, and three their aides took place in the meeting on the Georgian side. Left Front coordinator Udaltsov, his aide Lebedev and Razvozzhayev, an aide to State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov, took part in the meeting on the Russian side," he said.
Information about preparations for a terrorist attack in Russia discussed by the participants in the meeting will also be checked. If it proves true, a relevant legal assessment of action of Udaltsov and Georgian citizens will be given, he said.
The opposition claims that the initiation of a criminal case against Udaltsov means continuing reprisals against the opposition.
"I think this is a well-planned campaign, which included the forming of public opinion, and therefore the "Anatomy of Protest-2" film was shot to prepare society for more reprisals," Dmitry Gudkov, a State Duma deputy of the party A Just Russia, told Interfax on Wednesday.
He said he tried to find out who are the authors of the documentary.
"These films have been made by migrant journalists, not people from NTV. They were hired for one project and then dispersed, because not a single journalist respecting himself will take part in this. The first "Anatomy" did not even have closing credits," he said.
The authorities could impose travel restrictions on Udaltsov and another prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, and monitor sentiments in society and regularly conduct public opinion polls while the investigation is proceeding, he said. "They will be measuring temperature in society. The reprisals are continuing," Gudkov said.
Likewise, Grigory Yavlinsky, a member of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, argues that the initiation of a criminal case against Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov is a sign of political reprisals in Russia.
"This is political revenge and political reprisals," he said. "Political oppression of political opponents delegitimizes the authorities and makes them not democratic but police-like. Such actions worsen a split between society and the authorities and a political crisis."
"The showing of a film cannot serve as a solid ground [for criminal prosecution]. Udaltsov does not belong to the criminal world and has not committed economic crimes. He is a representative of the political opposition, and the constitution entitles him to lead such activities," he said.
Yavlinsky called on the authorities to immediately stop the criminal case, as this could lead to serious consequences in the long run.
Law enforcement officers conducted searches not only at an apartment of Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov but also at an apartment of his parents.
"I cannot reach Udaltsov, no one expected that there will be searches. A search is underway at the apartment of his parents as well," Violetta Volkova, a lawyer for Udaltsov, told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. earlier. "I'm leaving for his place right now. I think they will not let me in as it was before when every entrance to the apartment was blocked."
"I learnt about Udaltsov from news agencies; however, theoretically investigators should have told informed me," she said.
It was reported earlier that the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov and a number of other opposition leaders into preparations for mass riots.