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Russian Activist, App Developer Held In Yekaterinburg For Drug Possession

Aleksandr Litreyev, a developer of smartphone applications to assist protesters, was detained on February 22 in Yekaterinburg for drug possession. (file photo)

A Yekaterinburg court has remanded a cybersecurity firm owner and former activist in the opposition Anti-Corruption Foundation to nearly two months in pretrial detention for possession of the drug ecstasy.

A native of St. Petersburg residing in Estonia, Aleksandr Litreyev was detained on February 22 at a hotel lobby in Russia's fourth-most-populous city after police said they found two pills of the psychoactive recreational drug during a search.

Their combined weight was 0.87 grams, police said.

Litreyev's defense asked for house arrest but prosecutors argued the suspect wasn't registered in Russia and was a flight risk.

The founder of Vee Security Russia admitted his guilt, repented, and promised to cooperate with investigators and offered to surrender his travel passport.

He will appeal the ruling, local media reported, citing his lawyer.

According to prosecutors, Litreyev arrived by plane to Yekaterinburg on February 22, met his 19-year-old girlfriend, and both went to purchase the pills that he had ordered online.

Litreyev said the police knew who he was and what he does for a living.

He is a co-developer of the Red Button application that allows people detained at protests to expeditiously inform others, including rights groups, of their situation. The app automatically recognizes the location of the police station to where the detainee is taken.

His company has also provided access to a proxy server that allows users to bypass a firewall imposed by the Russian authorities that prevents access to the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

After its release, Russia's telecommunications regulator issued a warning to Litreyev saying his proxy server could be blocked for "extremism."

He also created the Russian Elephant project, a database for storing information on alleged abuse of power by various government officials, including the use of violence against people at rallies, and to identify those who carried out the violence.

He will be held at a pretrial detention center until April 22.

If found guilty of "illegally buying, possessing, transporting, making, or processing narcotics without the intent to sell," Litreyev faces a maximum prison sentence of three years or two years of correctional work.

With reporting by and