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Protests

Russian opposition leader placed under house arrest

A prominent Russian opposition leader and activist has been placed under house arrest for two months. Sergei Udaltsov is accused of plotting mass disorder during anti-government protests in May last year.

A court in Moscow ruled Saturday that Udaltsov be placed under house arrest until April 6 following allegations that he had not complied with earlier travel restrictions.

Under the terms of the order Udaltsov, leader of the opposition Left Front movement, was banned from using most forms of communication. That includes the Internet, telephone and mail. The judge ruled that he may only speak to his family, his lawyers and investigators.

The 35-year-old had been barred from leaving Moscow by Russia's Federal Investigative Committee following allegations that he had taken part in violent anti-Putin protests and was plotting to overthrow the regime. Udaltsov has denied violating the terms of the order.

"In my opinion nothing has changed that justifies putting me under house arrest," the opposition leader said before appearing in court on Saturday.

"I responded to all the investigators' summons and I did not leave Moscow."

His lawyers have vowed to appeal the decision.

Prominent opposition figure

Allegations against the 35-year-old are linked to a documentary broadcast by state-controlled television in October. It alleged that he and his associates met with a Georgian lawmaker last autumn to raise money for organizing riots across Russia. Udaltsov rejected the charges, describing the footage as a sham.

Two of his allies have already been detained and charged in connection with the probe.

Udaltsov also faces charges for his role in a protest on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a third presidential term in May last year. The demonstration culminated in violent clashes with police.

If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Udaltsov shot to prominence during unprecedented protests against Putin's 12-year political dominance in the winter of 2011. He is the first key opposition leader to be put under house arrest since those protests.

ccp/hc (AFP, Reuters, AP)