Putin moving to stifle Russian critics

Aug. 16, 2012 at 10:26 AM
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MOSCOW, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Members of Russia's opposition movement say they are being intimidated and receiving death threats as President Vladimir Putin moves against the movement.

Since tens of thousands of Russians protested in late 2011 against what they termed election fraud, the Kremlin has relied on harassment, prosecution and anti-protest laws to stifle the opposition, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Maria Baranova is one of 16 people facing charges stemming from a protest on the eve of Putin's inauguration that turned violent. Dozens of people were hurt, including 53 police officers.

In early June, masked police officers carrying submachine guns broke down the door of Baranova's apartment while she was out, threw her nanny on the floor and ransacked the apartment.

Alexander Lebedev, a major stockholder in a newspaper that's been a strong critic of Putin, says the threat of persecution is so great he will end all his business in Russia and move out of the country.

Pro-Kremlin political analyst Dmitry Orlov defended the Kremlin's crackdown as legal

"The Kremlin is making it clear that leaders of non-systematic opposition set on bringing down the system by violent means will not be tolerated anymore, and that they should act within the Russian legal political system or not at all," he said.

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