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Wave of Searches and Confiscations Hit Opposition Activists in Moscow

Source: HRO.org (info), 11/06/12

· Right to assembly  · Freedom of association  · Freedom of expression  · Ministry of Internal Affairs 
· Public Prosecutor's Office  · Persecution of activists  · Public protests  · Moscow city & Moscow region

On 11 June 2012, investigators searched the apartments of opposition activists in Moscow, including Aleksei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov, Kseniya Sobchak, Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, Pyotr Verzilov and Maria Baranova. Solidarnost activist Mikhail Maglov was detained. The apartment of Udaltsov’s elderly parents was also searched and, according to the latest reports, the apartment of Navalny's wife's parents has also been searched. Here are the details, taken directly from reports of those affected by the actions of the Investigative Committee and the police.

“I never thought that these kinds of repressions would return,” television presenter Kseniya Sobchak commented on the current situation.

"They burst in at 8 o'clock in the morning, prevented me from getting dressed, ransacked the apartment and humiliated me," Kseniya Sobchak said, reporting the details in her microblog.

"My home is being searched. In connection with the investigation into the mass rioting. The door was practically sawn off," Navalny reported on Twitter. His home was searched around 8 o’clock in the morning. Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova was prevented from entering his apartment on Lyublinskaya Street for an hour and a half, Grani.ru reports.

Olga Shorina, press secretary of the Solidarity movement, told Radio Liberty: "As far as I know, when the lawyers Vadim Prokhorov and Olga Mikhailova arrived at Navalny's apartment, they were not even allowed into the building because riot police had sealed off both the building and the entrance and were only letting in people who had a residence permit. In the morning they also arrived at the apartment of Boris Nemtsov, who had spent the night outside Moscow. His building and apartment are currently blocked off in the same way. It is completely surrounded and also impossible to access..."

Police officers are removing disks containing children's photographs and clothes from the apartment of lawyer and blogger Aleksei Navalny, the BBC reports.

"It is reminiscent of 1937 and it is not good. I fully support Navalny's opposition stance, of course, which involves the fight against corruption. It is impossible not to support it. I was not planning to go to the rally tomorrow, but in view of what has been going on, I will probably go now," a neighbour of Navalny's told a BBC Russian Service correspondent.

People in masks are watching Navalny's office, the blogger and well-known photojournalist Ilya Varlamov reports.

Leaders of the Russian opposition Aleksei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov, Ilya Yashin and Kseniya Sobchak have been summoned to the Investigative Committee for questioning, an official representative of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Markin, said on 11 June. "Altogether, the investigation is planning to conduct more than ten searches today in different locations. Those being searched have been summoned to the Investigative Committee on 12 June for questioning," Markin was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Sergei Udaltsov reported on Twitter: "The search at my apartment has finished. Several bags of ‘evidence’ were taken away (papers, insignia, computers). The whole apartment has been turned upside down. At the same time they forced their way into my elderly parents’ home, almost giving them a heart attack, where they also conducted a search. I have been served with a summons for tomorrow at 11:00".

A report that a search had begun in the home of Evgeniya Chirikova appeared on the performance art group Voina's Twitter account. Evgeniya herself is currently at a meeting of the March of Millions’ organising committee. The search of her apartment did not begin earlier as she was not at home, Novaya Gazeta notes.

Anna Veduta reports in her microblog: "Navalny rang from home. All of his electronic equipment has been taken away - phone, iPads, computers."

Maria Baranova: "They confiscated my inhaler, labelling it as a ‘bong’ in brackets. It's an inhaler for colds."

As Sergei Davidis, a member of the Solidarity movement, said in an interview with the BBC, these searches are "an obvious police intimidation tactic". "I do not think the authorities are expecting to find any kind of compromising criminal plan to overthrow the government at the apartments of Nemtsov, Navalny or Yashin or anything that would make a search worthwhile. It is obviously an attempt to intimidate people," Davidis said.

Ilya Varlamov quotes well-known lawyer Genry Reznik, who arrived to offer legal assistance to Kseniya Sobchak, in his microblog: "Authorities should not come across as confused or ludicrous, but today's actions make the authorities seem afraid..."

As a result of the events taking place in Moscow, #privet37god ended up trending on Twitter for several minutes, Radio Liberty pointed out.

Valery Borshchev, a veteran of the Russian human rights movement and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, is outraged that law enforcement agencies are investigating Russian opposition leaders on the eve of the March of Millions, which is planned to take place in the capital on 12 June, Newsru.com reports. "This is a crude violation of the law. Lawyers are not being given access. Searches are being conducted on a non-working day, although there is no need for this. People are being called in for questioning on 12 June, a public holiday. It is an extremely alarming signal," human rights defender Valery Borshchev said. "They are all acts of intimidation. Together with the adopted bill on rallies, it is a powerful message to society," Borshchev said.

At the same time, Novaya Gazeta reports that police and interior ministry troops from the regions are continuing to gather in Moscow. In particular, a convoy of interior troops' vehicles has made its way from the Dmitrov district in the Moscow region.

The writer Grigory Chkhartishvili (Boris Akunin) summed up what had happened in Moscow on 11 June 2012 in his blog this way: "Today's convulsive activity of the grasping authorities is a powerful propaganda move for large-scale participation in the rally on 12 June. Many thanks to all those unknown allies of the opposition who are eating away at the regime from the inside! You are just falling over yourselves to make sure the demonstration really will be a march of millions. Now even the most impassive citizens will understand the need to take part. They simply must: it is promising to be an historic event."
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