A court in Moscow has upheld pretrial house arrest for a board member of the independent election-monitoring group Golos (Voice) who is charged with threatening to kill two reporters of a state-affiliated television station.
On June 4, the Moscow Regional Court rejected a motion by Roman Udot's lawyers to replace house arrest with milder pretrial restrictions.
At the hearing, Udot called the case against him politically motivated, saying that it was a retaliation by Moscow authorities for his efforts to investigate what he called falsifications during elections in Russia.
Udot was arrested last month on his arrival from an extended trip abroad and charged with threatening to kill two correspondents working for the NTV television channel.
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 verbal insults.
The probe was suspended while Udot was abroad. But he was detained when he returned to Russia on May 20.
The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has recognized Udot as a political prisoner.
According to Memorial, Udot's arrest is an attempt by the authorities to hinder Golos's activities during Russia's September regional and local elections.
On May 24, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Udot’s arrest shows the Russian authorities’ unwillingness to rein in "abusive tactics" by NTV, which is owned by the Russian state 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."