Putin opponent Sergei Udaltsov under house arrest

Sergei Udaltsov: House arrest. Picture: Getty
Sergei Udaltsov: House arrest. Picture: Getty
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A RUSSIAN opposition leader has been placed ­under house arrest for two months, it emerged yesterday.

The move, imposed by a court in Moscow, bans him from using most forms of communication, including the internet, telephone and mail.

The restrictions on Sergei Udaltsov, 35, which came into force yesterday, were imposed after prosecutors complained he had breached a previous agreement not to leave Moscow.

Udaltsov, one of the most prominent figures of the 2011 wave of protests, is facing charges in connection with a demonstration in May that ended in clashes with police and for allegedly plotting to foment mass disorder aimed at overthrowing the government.

Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency in May, authorities have cracked down on the opposition, and protests have diminished in frequency and size.

A documentary-style programme aired by a Kremlin-friendly television channel claimed Udaltsov and his associates met a Georgian legislator last autumn to raise money to organise riots in Moscow and several other cities. Udaltsov denied the charges and said the footage was a sham.

Opposition and human rights activists have denounced the case against Udaltsov and other dissidents as a throwback to the era of Soviet repression.

Since Putin returned to the top job after four years as prime minister due to limits on tenure, the Kremlin-dominated parliament has passed a series of laws cracking down on dissent. One increases the fine for taking part in unsanctioned protests 150-fold to 300,000 rubles (£6,300).

Authorities also cracked down on the feminist-provocateur band Pussy Riot, sentencing two of its members to two years in prison for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in which they entreated the Virgin Mary to save the country from Putin.