Russia probes activist over Putin plot

2012-10-08 19:42
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Moscow - Russian investigators on Monday summoned a prominent opposition leader for questioning after state television aired a film claiming he planned to overthrow President Vladimir Putin with foreign backing.

State-controlled NTV on Friday showed a smear film claiming Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the Left Front movement, was plotting to take over the government with backing from a Georgian lawmaker and former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin, who is in exile in Britain.

Udaltsov, who has dismissed the "Anatomy of a Protest II" film as the "delirium of a lunatic", said any illicit finances or other illegal activities on his part would have already been uncovered due to close surveillance.

But Russia's top investigative body, the Investigative Committee, swiftly opened a probe into the claims. The agency has in the past come under fire for sometimes being overly politicised in its probes.

Probe

"Today I received a call from the Russian Investigative Committee," Udaltsov told the popular Ekho of Moscow radio station.

“[I] was invited to come over at 15:00 on Wednesday, 10 October, to give my explanations as part of a probe opened on the request of United Russia lawmakers over the facts in the film,” he added.

The film also alleged Udaltsov was considering hiring Chechen militants to stage an attack.

Udaltsov is a key player in the country's opposition movement against Putin's decade-long rule.

Following unprecedented protests this past winter, parliament has pushed through tough legislation widely seen as a clampdown on civil society.

In July, Russian authorities charged another protest leader, Alexei Navalny, with embezzlement, reviving a case that could put him behind bars for 10 years.

And last month, investigators charged another top Kremlin critic, billionaire media magnate Alexander Lebedev, with hooliganism after he punched a guest on a television show last year.

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