Moscow targets opposition leaders

June 11, 2012 at 10:28 AM
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MOSCOW, June 11 (UPI) -- Opposition activists in Russia say authorities there are trying to "scare off" activists expressing frustration with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny said authorities in Moscow raided the homes of several activists Monday. Police removed computer disks and clothing containing anti-government slogans, the BBC reports.

Activist Andrei Piontkovsky told the BBC that Russian authorities "want to scare off Muscovites from participation in a very important political event."

Putin last week signed a law that increases the penalty for those accused of staging unsanctioned protests. The law increases the penalty from $152 to more than $9,000 for individuals.

Putin won a third non-consecutive term as Russian president this year. The election was criticized by outside observers as fraudulent. Similar concerns were expressed when Putin's United Russia Party won State Duma elections in December.

Human Rights Watch had expressed concern about the situation in Russia following reports of police brutality during Putin's inauguration in May.

Putin, during his inaugural address, promised sweeping democratic and legal reforms.

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