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Putin critic Sergei Udaltsov arrested charged with ‘justifying terrorism’

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A prominent Russian left-wing activist who has for years criticized President Vladimir Putin has been arrested and charged with “justifying terrorism” on social media. 

Sergei Udaltsov, a supporter of the Russia-Ukraine war and the leader of the Left Front, a coalition of Russian left-wing groups affiliated with Russia’s Communist Party, wrote on Telegram earlier today that police broke down his front door and had a search warrant. 

His lawyer, Violetta Volkova, told the Russian state news agency Tass that electronic devices were confiscated during the search. Volkova said that a criminal case was opened against Udaltsov for “justifying terrorism” and that he was taken away for questioning and remanded into custody.

A collage of Sergei Udaltsov and President Vladimir Putin

Sergei Udaltsov, left, a prominent Russian left-wing activist and President Putin critic, has been arrested and charged with “justifying terrorism” on social media. Putin is pictured on the right. (Photos by Contributor/Getty Images, right.)

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Volkova told Tass he likely will appear in court on Friday and that if he is charged and found guilty, he could face up to seven years in prison.

It is unclear which posts on social media led to Udaltsov’s arrest.

Udaltsov, a leather-clad, shaven-headed leader, has been a vocal participant in anti-Kremlin demonstrations dating back to mass rallies held in 2012, according to the Moscow Times. 

In 2014, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for organizing protests that resulted in clashes with police on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 inauguration. He was released in August 2017 after going on hunger strike.

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Most recently, Udaltsov was given 40 hours of compulsory labor for violating procedures relating to organizing a rally on Red Square in Moscow where he tried to unfurl a flag with the image of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on Red Square, according to Tass.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny looks at photographers standing in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia in 2021. Navalny and Udaltsov claimed that voter fraud helped Putin with the 2012 presidential election.

Udaltsov was briefly allied with now-imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who has stood as the most significant opposition to President Vladimir Putin in recent years. They claimed voter fraud helped Putin with the 2012 presidential election. 

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Multiple activists, lawyers and opposition figures have been detained and jailed in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine while there has also been a spate of mysterious deaths.

However, Udaltsov’s apprehension is noteworthy, given that he has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His wife Anastasia serves as a communist member of Russia’s parliament.

Kyiv Ukraine missile

Rescuers work at a site of a destroyed apartment building after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine. Udaltsov’s apprehension is noteworthy, given that he has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ((AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky))

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