MOSCOW -- Police in Russia have searched the homes of coordinators of the Open Russia opposition group, the editor in chief of the independent MBKh Media online publication, and independent municipal candidates.
Tatyana Usmanova, an Open Russia coordinator, wrote on Twitter on July 9 that Moscow police were searching her apartment and the apartments of municipal lawmaker Yulia Galyamina and Olga Gorelik, who is the wife of another independent municipal lawmaker, Konstantin Yanauskas.
"Going to break the door. They don’t want to wait for lawyers,” Usmanova wrote in a post on Telegram.
Galyamina wrote on Twitter that she was not home and that her lawyer Mikhail Biryukov was unable to enter the apartment block to reach the residence, where her son who has a medical condition was waiting alone.
MBKh Media reported that police in Moscow also came to the home of its editor in chief, Sergei Prostakov. It added that his lawyer, Gennady Fyodorov, was not allowed to enter his client's apartment to be present during the search.
Police in the Siberian city of Tomsk searched the residence of Aleksei Pryanishnikov, Open Russia's lawyer in the region, his wife Nadezhda told MBKh Media.
Open Russia representatives also told the online news portal Mediazona that they have been unable to contact their colleagues, Andrei Pivovarov and Alina Danilina.
Officials did not comment on why the searches were being conducted.
Open Russia lawyer Sergei Badamshin said the search of Olga Gorelik's home is linked to the 2003 case of the Yukos oil giant, while the group's press secretary, Konstantin Fomin, told Mediazona that the Yukos case is just a pretext for conducting the searches.
According to Fomin, the real reason for the searches might be a request by opposition activists to hold a rally in Moscow’s Pushkin Square on July 15 to protest against recently introduced constitutional amendments that, among other things, allow for the possibility that President Vladimir Putin could run for two more terms once his current six-year term ends in 2024.
The controversial amendments took effect on July 4 following a national vote that critics say was marred by unprecedented levels of fraud.