A Moscow court on Saturday placed outspoken leftist opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov under house arrest in connection with criminal charges that he orchestrated anti-government riots last year. The ruling marks the first time since the rise of the opposition movement in December 2011 following disputed State Duma elections that a prominent anti-Kremlin figure has faced such a restriction.
Udaltsov, leader of the Left Front, had been under travel restrictions since October but had repeatedly violated them, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Friday. His violations forced investigators to ask the court to limit his freedom further, Markin said.
Under the new restrictions, Udaltsov will be prevented until April 6 from leaving his Moscow apartment without permission, and from communicating with anyone except his family, lawyers, investigators or prison officials by any means, the Basmanny District Court ruled. On Friday, Udaltsov denied that he had violated the travel restrictions imposed on him in October, saying authorities were seeking to limit his public activism.
In a bizarre episode, the judge also said that Udaltsov and his wife, fellow activist Anastasia Udaltsova, fought frequently and that Udaltsova had left for Ukraine because of her husband’s threats.
People in the courtroom burst into laughter at the claim, since Udaltsova was standing right in front of the judge at the time. She put her finger to her temple and turned it back and forth to indicate what she perceived as the absurdity of the statement.