It could have been just another day in the Soviet Union as Sergei Udaltsov left his home and walked towards the Russian Duma (Parliament) area for a meeting. Without warning men in plainclothes stepped into the busy morning crowd near the Teatralnaya Metro station and pulled Sergei into a car without number plates and drove off to an unknown location. As it turns out he was whisked to a police station and detained.
However this is not the Soviet Union any longer and Sergei Udaltsov is head of a Russian opposition group called the Left Front. The arrest wasn’t in Soviet times but happened in Moscow this Wednesday morning, 11 April 2012.
President-elect Vladimir Putin was on his way to speak to the Duma and Udaltsov was on his way to meet with a group of protesters outside the parliament entrance. Udaltsov never made it to the Duma but Putin did. Police then began to arrest other protesters who had gathered for Mr. Putin’s arrival.
Oh, and the police charges for detaining Udaltsov as he walked Moscow’s busy sidewalks? Udaltsova’s wife, Anastasia Udaltsova, said that police have confirmed Udaltsov’s arrest but given no reasons.
Udaltsov has been arrested several times in recent months for his leadership role in the Russian opposition movement.
As for Prime Minister Putin, he arrived just before Noon and addressed the State Duma with a review of his government and outlining five priority areas for the future. After the speech he answered questions on a range of topics, including Russia’s WTO entry.
Mr. Putin even agreed to new constitutional language to prevent someone like himself from serving more than two terms. “As regards to removing from the Constitution ‘two consecutive terms’ and making it simply ‘two terms,’ I think it’s reasonable. It can absolutely be considered — we should do it together with all the parties,” Putin said. He did however reserve the right to run again in 2018, as he was elected this year under the current rules.