Monday, 11 June 2012

Armed Russian police raid homes of anti-Putin activists in huge crackdown which critics describe as a 'return to the days of Stalin'

  • 10 top Russian activists who represent biggest threat to Stalin are targeted
  • Hello1937 was trending on Russian-language version of Twitter - referring to the worst year of Stalin's purges
  • More than a dozen officers beat down doors at anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny's home

Armed Russian police today raided the homes of anti-Putin activists today ahead of a mass demonstration in a major new crackdown on dissent.
The fresh wave of arrests was today compared with the days of Stalin by opponents on Russian language Twitter.
Hello1937 was trending on the social networking site - referring to the year 1937 which was seen as the worst for Stalin purges.

Raiders: A man wearing a balaclava walks past two policemen holding submachine guns outside opposition blogger Alexei Navalny's house in Moscow today 

'Most disgusting is that completely unlawfully people can storm in, simply rob you, and laugh at your private letters.'
Other Putin foes warned of a return to Stalin-style tactics to suppress freedoms.
More than a dozen officers with assault rifles beat down the doors of leading anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, 36, a figure rapidly emerging as Putin's most effective foe.

'They are taking all the electronic devices,' he said. 'Even disks with photos of the children.'

Targeted: The glamorous Ksenia Sobchak who today condemned the 'repressions' 

The heavy-handed raids on ten top oppositions activists seem aimed at disrupting a major rally against Putin in Moscow today. Computers and phones were removed.
Navalny and Sobchak were also summoned for questioning today over disturbances at a May 6 protest, preventing them from attending the major Moscow demonstration.
The raids signal a new get-tough policy by the Russian elite - and Navalny together with other key opposition figures could face jail for up to ten years over clashes with police.
Last week Putin - who recently began a new six-year term as president - signed into strict new curbs on protests.
The authorities have authorised up to 50,000 people to take part in today's rally at the site of a December protest against that month's fraud-tainted parliamentary polls.
Former finance chief Alexei Kudrin - a personal friend of Putin who quit last year - warned yesterday of 'radicals gaining strength' in the Kremlin.
As a child she knew Putin but recently denied she is his goddaughter.
Around 1.5million in cash were discovered by police in her flat, said police sources.
Former deputy premier Boris Nemtsov and leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov were also targeted yesterday.
Yesterday's raids pose a dilemma for the West in voicing concern over a 'hardline lurch' in Russia at a time when Britain and other leading countries are seeking warmer economic and political relations with Moscow.
Sobchak's father Anatoly was Putin's former law professor who also gave him his first political job in the mayor's office in St Petersburg.

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