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Moscow Court Cancels Pretrial House Arrest For Russian Activist Udot

Russia -- Golos official Roman Udot at a press conference on recent actions taken by Russia's Federal Tax Service against Golos

A Moscow court has canceled the pretrial house arrest of Roman Udot, an activist with the independent election-monitoring group Golos (Voice) charged with threatening to kill two reporters of a state-affiliated television station.

The Moscow Regional Court on July 9 ruled to replace Udot's house arrest with a ban on leaving his apartment between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Udot was arrested in May upon returning to Moscow from abroad and charged with threatening to kill two correspondents working for NTV television channel.

He has rejected the charges, calling them politically motivated, and said the case against him is in retaliation for an investigation into alleged election fraud.

Udot told Golos that the electronic bracelet on his ankle will be now removed.

But he is banned from talking to people involved in his case and from using the Internet or a mobile phone.

"At present, he is not under house arrest anymore," his lawyer Maksim Pashkov confirmed.

'Political Prisoner'

The case stems from a March 2018 incident at a Moscow airport where two NTV reporters descended on Udot and peppered the activist with questions on camera which led to an exchange of insults.

The probe was suspended while Udot was abroad, but he was detained upon coming back to Russia on May 20.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has declared Udot a political prisoner.

Memorial said his arrest was an attempt by the authorities to hinder Golos's activities during regional and local elections scheduled for September.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in May that Udot's arrest shows the Russian authorities' reluctance to rein in "abusive tactics" by NTV, which is owned by the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom.

The New York-based watchdog said in a statement that NTV is "notorious for harassing human rights activists and political opposition members and broadcasting smear campaigns against them."

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