RIA Novosti: Russian Opposition Figure Charged with Plotting Mass Riots

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 19, 2013) Russian prosecutors have charged opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev with plotting mass riots during a demonstration in Moscow last May, his lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky told RAPSI on Wednesday.

Razvozzhayev, who had previously been accused by investigators of attempting mass disturbances, has been now formally charged with having organized riots, followed by violence, property destruction, usage of firearms and explosives, the lawyer said.

He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted of involvement in planning the May 6 riots on Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to his third presidential term, when police clashed with protesters.

Investigators say the clashes were also organized by opposition figures Sergei Udaltsov and another Left Front activist, Konstantin Lebedev.

A total of 12 protesters are standing trial over the violence at the protest, with dozens more prosecutions expected. The clashes were a pivotal moment for Russia’s opposition movement, whose mass demonstrations following the Russian parliamentary and presidential elections had previously not been accompanied by major violence and had not been broken up by the police.

An activist with the Left Front movement, Razvozzhayev has been also charged with having illegally crossed the country’s border with Ukraine to evade prosecution.

Razvozzhayev fled Russia and was put on federal wanted list after the pro-Kremlin NTV channel aired footage last October that it said showed him and other opposition members meeting with an influential Georgian politician, Givi Targamadze, to plot the destabilization of Russia.

He also made international headlines last October when he claimed to have been abducted in Kiev by Russian security forces and tortured into confessing to the charges. He later retracted his confession.

Razvozzhayev was transferred to a detention facility in eastern Siberia late last year in connection with 1997 armed robbery charges. The authorities later closed that case, and Razvozzhayev returned to Moscow in March.