Russian pro-war activist to face trial over alleged terrorism offenses, Russian news agency says

A Russian court Friday ordered that Sergei Udaltsov, a Russian pro-war activist and critic of President Vladimir Putin, be detained until Feb. 15 when he will stand trial for charges of “justifying terrorism,” Russian state news agency Ria Novosti said.

Udaltsov told Ria Novosti that the charges relate to his posts in support of members of a Marxist group who were arrested for creating a “terrorist community” in the city of Ufa, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) east of Moscow.

Ria Novosti said the charges against Udaltsov carry a prison sentence of five to seven years.

Udaltsov is the leader of the Left Front, a group of political parties that oppose Putin and are affiliated with the Communist Party.

He was prominent during the 2011-12 protests that saw the biggest demonstrations in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and was briefly allied with now-imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

While multiple activists, lawyers and opposition figures have been detained and jailed in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, Udaltsov stands out as he has supported the war and the annexation of Crimea, while remaining critical of Putin.

On Thursday, Udaltsov wrote on his Telegram social media channel that police were banging on his door to search his home.

His lawyer, Violetta Volkova, told Russian state news agency Tass that electronic devices were confiscated and that a criminal case was opened against Udaltsov for “justifying terrorism.”

In December, a Moscow court sentenced Udaltsov to 40 hours of compulsory labor for violating procedures relating to organizing a rally after he was detained on Red Square, where he tried to unfurl a flag with the image of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Tass said.

Udaltsov was previously imprisoned in 2014 and sentenced to 4½ years on charges related to his role in organizing a 2012 demonstration against Putin that turned violent. He protested his sentence by going on hunger strike before being released in 2017.

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