Suspect In Bolotnaya Protest Flees Russia Before Trial

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A Russian man accused of involvement in clashes with police at a protest on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration in 2012 says he has left the country. Speaking to Current Time TV, a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, Dmitry Buchenkov said on November 9 that he is currently in a European Union country and has applied for asylum. He declined to name the country.

Buchenkov said he managed to leave Russia after he was transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest in Moscow. 

Buchenkov was charged in connection with violence between police and protesters at a demonstration on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. 

But Buchenkov reiterated that he was not there at all that day.

Police detained more than 400 people after the clashes, which police and demonstrators blame on one another.

The rally was one of a series of large opposition protests sparked mainly by anger over evidence of widespread electoral fraud and dismay at Putin's decision to return to the presidency after a four-year stint as prime minister.

More than 30 people were prosecuted in connection with the clashes and more than 20 were sentenced to prison or served time in pretrial custody.

In August, the last imprisoned Bolotnaya activist, Ivan Nepomnyashchikh, was released after serving a 30-month sentence. He left Russia for the United States two weeks later. 

Amnesty International has said that the police action at the rally "was not the quelling of a riot but the crushing of a protest" and that all those prosecuted are "victims of a politically motivated show trial."

One Bolotnaya protester, Maksim Panfilov, has been committed to a psychiatric hospital in the southern city of Astrakhan.

rferl.org

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