Anti-Putin activist charged with plotting protest

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Russian opposition leader, Sergei Udaltsov has been formally charged with plotting mass disorder.

The anti-Putin activist remained defiant as he entered the headquarters of the Russian Federal Investigative Committee – which is modelled on the FBI in the USA – but if convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.

He is accused of seeking funds from Georgia to stoke Unrest in Russia. The allegations were first brought by a pro-Kremlin documentary, but critics say it is just part of a government clampdown on anti-Putin protest.

Torture

It was earlier reported that one of his associates, Leonid Razvozzhayev, was snatched off the street in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev last Friday and brought back to Moscow.

He made a confession implicating Udatsov but later repealed it claiming it had been made under torture.

Protest

Speaking to reporters Sergei Udaltsov said: “This case is based on torture, it’s shameful, it hurts the Russian image. If somebody expected me to run across the border like a scared dog – they will not see this. I have not committed a crime.”

The shaven-headed opposition leader who leads the Left Front Coalition has been at the front of a series of sanctioned protests in the Russian capital, prompted by allegations of fraud in December’s parliamentary election which was won by Putin’s United Russia Party.

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Georgia: Outcry over prison torture video

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Mothers of prisoners were joined by thousands of protesters on Thursday, after a video emerged showing guards torturing and raping inmates at a prison. They called for the resignation of the Interior and Justice Ministers.

One mother said: “I can not bear this any more, I fainted three times yesterday. I didn’t know that such things happened at the prison. At least I did not believe it.”

In an effort to diffuse tensions President Mikhail Saakashvili has accepted the resignation of the minister in charge of penitentiaries, and completely reshuffled prison personnel.

Georgian prosecutors have arrested 12 prison officials and Saakashvili has vowed to punish those responsible.

The video comes at a sensitive moment for the president, who has led Georgia since 2004, just ahead of parliamentary elections on October 1.

The video showing guards torturing prisoners and raping them with truncheons and broom handles was broadcast by two opposition TV channels on Monday, leading the government to claim that it was staged for political reasons.