After being held in an Irkutsk pre-trial detention facility for nearly two months, news broke on Wednesday that persecuted Russian oppositionist Leonid Razvozzhayev is finally being transported back to Moscow.
Razvozzhayev was initially sent to Irkutsk on December 18, 2012, as a suspect in an armed burglary case that happened on December 4, 1997. Charges were filed against him towards the end of November – two weeks before the 15-year statute of limitations on the case was set to expire. However, Razvozzhayev signed an official agreement on December 15 that allowed the case to be closed, which his lawyer says should have allowed him to stay in Moscow.
“This statement removes any legal basis for sending Razvozzhayev to Irkutsk,” lawyer Dmitri Agranovsky said on January 10 about the agreement. The agreement simply stated: “I, Razvozzhayev Leonid Mikhailovich, agree to the end and closure of this criminal case, in which I was accused. ”
Meanwhile, Federal Investigative Committee Spokesman Vladimir Markin said that the oppositionist’s statement counted as an admission of guilt. Several days later, Agranovsky responded that the document “was not an admission, but just a forced measure to keep us from being treated inhumanely.”
While in Irkutsk, doctors found a bullet near Razvozzhayev’s spine, and he was hospitalized on December 18 “for further screening and treatment,” according to a press release from the Prosecutor General.
Agranovsky told Interfax news service that doctors had already found the bullet while the oppositionist was detained in Moscow. “It’s obvious that they’re looking for any excuse to hold Leonid Razvozzhayev in Irkutsk. Now the doctors are in on it,” he said. “For some reason, the bullet didn’t keep him from being sent to Irkutsk, but now it’s keeping him from being returned to Moscow.”
Further reports surfaced on February 12 that the oppositionist was being beaten by his cellmates.
“What Leonid told me today was absolutely awful. He was incredibly depressed. His cellmates are exerting a monstrous amount of pressure on him, and are demanding that he confess to a crime. A task had been set – to break this man – and if it wasn’t for our support, they would have broken him long ago,” lawyer Vyacheslav Ivanets told Radio Svoboda.
News of Razvozzhayev’s initial arrest broke on October 21. According to the oppositionist, he was kidnapped by unknown individuals in Kiev, where he was applying for political asylum. He was then brought to Moscow and tortured into confessing to organizing mass disorder during a May 6 protest on Bolotnaya Square. A total of four charges have been filed against him: besides those regarding the May 6 protests and the now-closed 15-year-old robbery case, he is also charged with illegally crossing state borders and lying under oath – in the last instance, about having been tortured.
Meanwhile, fellow oppositionist Sergei Udaltsov, who together with Razvozzhayev is charged with organizing mass disorder on May 6, has been placed under strict house arrest. Since February 9, he has been banned from leaving his apartment without the approval of law enforcement authorities, speaking with anyone besides his family, lawyers, investigators, or officials from the Federal Penitentiary Service, using the internet, or communicating by phone or mail.
Udaltsov is ordered to remain under house arrest until April 6.
Charges against both oppositionists came after the state-controlled NTV network aired a highly dubious program called “Anatomy of a Protest 2,” which accused Udaltsov of working with a Georgian parliamentarian to organize unrest in Russia.
Information sourced from Interfax, Radio Svoboda, and Gazeta.ru.