Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russia Raids Opposition Figures' Homes

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russia Raids Opposition Figures' Homes

Article excerpt

Among 10 figures who were subjects of the searches Monday were some of the more prominent figures to emerge over the last six months, and they have been summoned for interrogation.

The Russian authorities searched the apartments of top opposition figures early Monday, raising the possibility that they would face criminal charges and increasing tension before a major protest planned for Tuesday.

Among 10 figures who were subjects of the searches were some of the more prominent figures to emerge over the last six months: the blogger and anti-corruption crusader Aleksei Navalny; the leftist firebrand Sergei Udaltsov; the veteran liberal organizer Ilya Yashin; and the television presenter Kseniya Sobchak, whose father, Anatoly A. Sobchak, was a mentor to President Vladimir V. Putin.

All four have been summoned for interrogation on Tuesday, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the investigators. The process will almost certainly prevent them from attending the march, which is set for Tuesday at noon.

After tolerating large anti-Putin gatherings for many months, the Kremlin has adopted a harsher approach, which it says is necessary to prevent radicalism from taking root in Russia.

Twelve people already face criminal charges in connection with a May 6 demonstration that deteriorated into violent clashes between protesters and the riot police. Mr. Navalny, Mr. Udaltsov and other leaders could be charged as well.

On Friday, Mr. Putin signed into law a measure that would impose heavy fines on people who participate in demonstrations that have not been approved by the government. That, combined with the searches on Monday, serves as a warning to people who were planning to march on Tuesday, especially the middle-class office workers and young people who have been mobilized for the first time after years of political passivity.

Protest organizers said the steps could backfire, bringing a larger crowd onto the street.

"What's taking place right now will have a very strong mobilizing effect, and tomorrow we should expect many, many, many more people than were expected previously," said Sergei Parkhomenko, a journalist who has helped organize previous marches. …

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