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Russian Writer Facing Trial In Moldova 'Absconds'

Eduard Bagirov

Eduard Bagirov

CHISINAU -- Authorities in Moldova say a Russian writer awaiting trial for allegedly inciting street violence during pro-democracy protests two years ago has disappeared from house arrest, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Maria Vieru, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, told RFE/RL that Eduard Bagirov was found to have disappeared from his home on October 18.

Moldovan media report that Bagirov's lawyer is declining to either confirm or deny that he has disappeared.

Bagirov was arrested in June and held in custody until earlier this month, when a court in Chisinau decided he should be placed under house arrest instead.

He was formally charged on October 12 with inciting violence in Chisinau in April 2009, when at least one demonstrator was killed in clashes with the police after hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the apparent rigging of a parliamentary election to ensure a victory for the ruling Communist Party.

Bagirov and others are accused of planning a "Twitter revolution." That term has been coined by the Western media to describe Moldova's youthful pro-democracy protests, which led to repeat elections that were won by pro-Western parties.

Prosecutors, however, claim that in April 2009 Bagirov and others, far from promoting democracy, were trying to provoke street violence in order to compromise the democratic opposition and to justify tough police action against it.

Bagirov's arrest in mid-June caused tensions in Moldovan-Russian relations, with Moscow urging Moldova to set him free and complaining about the conditions in which he was being held.