Russian police raid opposition homes ahead of rally

 

Moscow

Russian investigators searched the homes of several prominent opposition figures yesterday ahead of a planned pro-democracy rally that could bring tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets of Moscow today.

Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Yashin were among those targeted in the searches, which officials said were part of an investigation into the bloody fight that broke out between protesters and riot police at the last mass demonstration in May. "They're seizing everything electronic. Even discs with photographs of my children," Mr Navalny, a prominent blogger and anti-corruption campaigner, wrote in a Twitter post.

The searches, along with a new law that dramatically raises fines for illegal protests, appear to show the government's growing impatience with the pro-democracy movement, which erupted in December after legislative elections that were marred by allegations of widespread fraud. The opposition appeared to get a second wind in May after unrest surrounding Vladimir Putin's inauguration as President sparked a series of public demonstrations.

Mr Navalny, Mr Udaltsov, Mr Yashin and the others have been called in for questioning this morning, raising the possibility that they will not be able to attend the demonstration planned for today. Opposition activists were quick to accuse the government of attempting to suppress dissent and the hash tag "Hello 1937", a reference to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, briefly jumped to the top of the worldwide trending list on Twitter.

Ksenia Sobchak, a television host who has been active in the pro-democracy movement and whose home was also raided yesterday, said officers humiliated her and stole cash from her apartment. "They burst in at 8am without giving me a chance to dress, robbed my apartment and humiliated me," she wrote on Twitter, adding that officers grinned as they read her personal letters aloud.

News that investigators had also searched the homes of Mr Udaltsov's parents and Mr Navalny's in-laws fuelled cries of foul play from the opposition, as did the apparent detention of an opposition blogger, Mikhail Maglov, whose whereabouts were unclear as of yesterday evening.

The offices of Rospil, one of Mr Navalny's anti-corruption organisations, were also searched and photographs of Kalashnikov-toting officers in balaclavas guarding the entrance quickly surfaced online. Investigators also attempted to search the apartment of veteran opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, but the search was called off because Mr Nemtsov wasn't home, a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee said.

Opposition lawmakers Ilya Ponomaryov, Gennady Gudkov, and Dmitry Gudkov released a statement condemning the "tsarist" searches as "groundless" and warned that they could provoke an irreversible escalation in tensions.

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week