Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov has was led away by police on Wednesday morning, as authorities began criminal proceedings against him, and other associates, for planning “mass disorder” in protests against President Vladimir Putin.
The charges focus on allegations, made in a pro-Kremlin documentary, which claims Udaltsov received money and orders to cause mass unrest in Russia, from an ally of Georgian President Mikeil Saakashcili. The charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
The head of the investigation committee, Vladimir Markin, gave a warning to protest leaders:
“I would like to warn all of those who think that one can organise without consequences, massive disorders and terror attacks that threaten the life and health of civilians in our country. You don’t imagine how professional our special services are,and you don’t know our laws and our penal code.”
Udaltsov who has led a series of protests sanctioned by Moscow denies the allegations against him.
His supporters say the Kremlin is conducting a politically motivated crackdown on protest leaders.