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Russian Opposition Activist Granted U.K. Asylum

MOSCOW -- The leader of a Russian youth opposition group has been granted political asylum by Britain, the group said.

Andrei Sidelnikov, the head of Pora! (It's time!), applied for asylum in December in London after Russia's security services tried to prevent him from traveling abroad, giving no reason, the group said.

"We consider [the granting of asylum] as recognition of the fact that Russia today has become an undemocratic country, where the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens are being violated," the group said late on July 4 on its website,

The British Home Office could not be reached for comment.

Pora! is one of several youth opposition groups that have formed across the former Soviet Union over recent years.

Modeled on its Ukrainian counterpart of the same name, Pora! wants a bloodless revolution in Russia similar to Ukraine's liberal Orange Revolution in 2004. There has been no sign, however, of any similar mass support in Russia.

"We believe the international community realizes that the so-called elections for a new Russian president serve as a cover-up for maintaining [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin's power," the group said.

Russia's shrunken political opposition lost representation in parliament throughout Putin's eight-year reign as president, which came to an end in May, and registers little support in opinion polls.