On the eve of another mass protest in Moscow, opposition leaders had their apartments turned upside down by special security forces.
MOSCOW- Russian special police units searched the apartments of leaders of the upcoming "March of the Millions," the latest in a series of Moscow protests against Vladimir Putin.
According to security forces, the leaders of the protest movement were searched early Monday in connection with the last major protest on May 6 protest in the capital's Bolotnaya Square. Russian authorities characterized that demonstration as: "mass chaos and violence against government representatives."
In addition to the Monday search, the organizers were also summoned for questioning by the investigative committee on Tuesday at 11:00 am. That timing threatens their participation in the March planned for the same day, and has left the protest organizers scrambling for others to fill their spots as speakers. Most of the opposition marches have taken place on the weekend, but this Tuesday is also a day off as June 12 is a national holiday in Russia.
"The search was extremely humiliating. They didn't allow us to get dressed or to take a shower, and they read private letters out loud," said Kseniya Sobchak, one of the opposition leaders who was subjected to the search.
Sergei Udaltsov, another one of the organizers searched, said on twitter that the investigators also burst into his parents' apartment, shocking the elderly couple.
Another "strange" incident
Aleksei Navalny said police seized all electronic devices. According to a spokesperson, a similar search took place at Rospil, a non-profit established by Navalny to fight corruption.
In addition to the searches, "something strange happened" with the owners of an apartment where television crews were supposed to film Tuesday's march. According to the TV station's top editor, the owners "left town suddenly, with the keys, and some of them turned off their mobile phones. The day before yesterday, one of the family members admitted that someone from the regime had spoken with them. But by yesterday they had started denying everything, saying ‘I can't answer your question," like a press release."
The head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, said that he is "shocked by what has happened," according to Interfax. "If you say that the searches, the summons for questioning and the protest planned for tomorrow are all unrelated, like they say at the investigations committee, well, from a legal point of view, that coincidence is possible. But I think that a societal point of view, in terms of modernization and political reforms, it is the worst possible coincidence we could imagine."
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