Russian court finds opposition leaders guilty of inciting mass riots

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:01 GMT

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MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) - A Moscow court on Thursday found Russian opposition leaders Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozhayev guilty of inciting mass riots against President Vladimir Putin.

The state prosecution has called for eight-year jail terms for both men and they were expected to be sentenced later on Thursday.

Udaltsov, who has been under house arrest since February 2013, and Razvozhayev were accused of coordinating the protests which turned violent on May 6, 2012, the eve of Putin's inauguration for a third term as president.

"Udaltsov, Razvozhayev ... agreed among themselves repeatedly on the organisation of mass disorders on the territory of the Russian Federation," Judge Alexander Zamashnyuk told the court.

The two deny organising mass riots and plotting wider unrest, and portray themselves as victims of a witch-hunt against Putin's opponents.

Udaltsov was one of the leaders of a wave of protests against Putin in several big cities in the winter of 2011-12. Another of the leaders, Alexei Navalny, is under house arrest and serving a suspended sentence on charges of theft.

Critics say Putin is quietly crushing political freedoms while eyes are turned to the crisis in Ukraine. The president has denied using the courts for political ends and this week denied a crackdown was under way on civil society. (Reporting Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Lidia Kelly)

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