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Russian Activist Facing Charges Added To Wanted List

Russian opposition activist Vladimir Ionov

Russian opposition activist Vladimir Ionov

A Russian opposition activist who was the first person charged under a strict new protest law has been added to the country's wanted list.

Vladimir Ionov's lawyer, Olga Dinze, said on January 19 that Moscow's Preobrazhensky district court ordered her client's case returned to the prosecutor's office and is now a wanted man.

Ionov, 76, did not show up last month at his own trial on charges of attending more than two unauthorized public protests during a six-month period, which under legislation enacted in 2014 can result in a potential 1 million ruble fine ($12,600) or up to five years in prison.

Rights activists call the new law a menacing tool to crack down on dissent.

Another Russian opposition activist, Ildar Dadin, who was sentenced to three years in jail on December 7, became the first person to be convicted under the legislation.

Russian media reported last month that Ionov fled to Ukraine.

With reporting by Rapsinews and Interfax