During the reign of the USSR, raids by the secret police were commonplace. However now in 2012, the Russian police aren’t very secretive about it. Last week we reported of legislation from the Kremlin aimed to diffuse protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition to infringing on Russians’ rights to assemble, Putin also authorized raids on the houses of prominent dissenters. The Financial Times reports:
“Police have raided the homes of prominent Russian opposition leaders and those of their parents in an apparent attempt to prevent their appearance at a large anti-Kremlin rally scheduled for Tuesday in the centre of Moscow, their representatives have said.
Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, was the first to report via Twitter that police ‘nearly split the door in two’ at 9:30am on Monday to search his flat.
Opposition TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, leftwing radical leader Sergei Udaltsov, and Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy minister, tweeted in rapid succession that their homes had also been targeted by police.
Ms Sobchak tweeted that police had ‘robbed’ her home and humiliated her. Pro-Kremlin website Life News, citing investigators, reported that police found Ms Sobchak ‘in her negligee’ and had confiscated more than €1.5m from a safe.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor’s Office, said investigators planned more than 10 searches on Monday, and that all searches were “done in strict accordance with procedure”.
Many of those searched were also summoned for questioning on Tuesday morning – coinciding with an opposition demonstration planned to start at noon.
Mr Markin declined to address why parents of activists were searched. The parents of Mr Udaltsov and opposition protestor Ilya Yashin, as well as Mr Navalny’s wife, were targeted, according to the activists.
A total of 50,000 people have been given legal permission to march through central Moscow along the picturesque ‘garden ring’ of the city. The last such protest, on May 6, attracted 20,000-50,000 but ended in violence between protesters and riot police.
Monday’s searches was the largest pre-emptive action against dissidents since the beginning of the protest movement last December, and seemed to signal a new, hard-nosed attitude to demonstrations apparent following the return of Vladimir Putin as president last month.”