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Two Russian Opposition Lawmakers Detained Ahead Of Elections

Ketevan Kharaidze
Ketevan Kharaidze

MOSCOW -- Russian authorities have detained two opposition municipal lawmakers from Moscow and St. Petersburg, in a possible attempt to thwart them from running in September's elections.

Police in Moscow detained Ketevan Kharaidze early on June 18, a month after the municipal lawmaker from the opposition Yabloko party announced that she intends to run for a seat in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

Kharaidze was detained after police searched her apartment, according to her election campaign chief, Yekaterina Uspenskaya.

Uspenskaya said that before being taken away for questioning, Kharaidze told her neighbor police had confiscated her telephone, a computer, and two 5,000-ruble ($70) banknotes found in a pocket of her coat that Kharaidze said she had not put there.

Authorities so far have not announced the reason for the search or detention of the opposition candidate. A court on June 19 will determine a measure of restraint.

According to OVD-Info group, which monitors the detention of political protesters and activists, Kharaidze's lawyer tried unsuccessfully for several hours to meet with her client.

A few hours before Kharaidze's was taken into custody, police in St. Petersburg detained municipal lawmaker Maksim Reznik on drug-possession charges after searching his home, his summer house, and his mother's apartment

A court on June 18 then ordered Reznik to stay under house arrest for two months, shutting him off from all communication except with his lawyer and some family.

"House arrest is a way to impede the political activities of Maksim Reznik and his election campaign" to run for the legislative assembly in St. Petersburg, a statement on the politician's Telegram channel said.

Reznik had previously taken part in events to support political prisoners in Russia.

He has said that he had been threatened recently by unknown men who'd said he would be targeted in a drug investigation unless he publicly criticized the jailed opposition politician and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.

Reznik's arrest came after his nephew, Ivan Dorofeyev, was charged with distributing illegal drugs.

Dorofeyev's mother says investigators pressured her son to testify against Reznik.

The September 19 elections will be for the State Duma as well as nine regional governors and 39 regional parliaments.

With reporting by OVD-Info