Friday, April 26, 2013

Russia Jails Putin Protester on Coup Charges

A Moscow court jailed an anti-Kremlin activist for two and a half years on Thursday on charges of taking part in a foreign-funded plot to overthrow President Vladimir Putin. Konstantin Lebedev, of the Left Front political movement, pleaded guilty to the charges, which were brought last autumn after the pro-Kremlin TV channel NTV aired what it said was secretly filmed footage of three leftist activists, including Lebedev, discussing a plot to topple Putin with a Georgian politican. Investigators said Lebedev, as part of the plot, helped organized riots during a Moscow rally on the eve of Putin's May 7, 2012 inauguration to a controversial third presidential term of office. The opposition blames the police for provoking the clashes and claims the case is political. The other two activists purportedly featured in the footage, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, and Leonid Razvozzhayev, have also been charged. They both deny the charges, which could see them jailed for up to ten years if found guilty. Udaltsov has been under house arrest since February, and Razvozzhayev has been in custody since last October. Lebedev, a former member of a pro-Kremlin youth group who went over to the opposition in 2004, may apply for early release in the near future, his lawyer said on Thursday. His lawyer also said he would testify at the trials of Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev.

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