Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against activist leader Sergei Udaltsov, who will face charges of "organizing mass disorder" and could face up to 10 years in prison.
The charges relate to statements Udaltsov allegedly made during a meeting that were secretly recorded, and then broadcast in the controversial documentary Anatomy of a Protest 2, which first aired on the NTV television network on October 5.
Investigators analyzed the video recording provided by NTV and concluded that there was “no evidence the video materials had been doctored,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
“We established that the voice heard in the Anatomy of a Protest 2 scenes, shot on hidden camera, belongs to Udaltsov, and the meeting shown in the video took place in the second half of June 2012 at an apartment in the Belarusian capital, Minsk,” Markin said.
State-run NTV broadcast what it said was secretly-filmed footage of Left Front leader Udaltsov meeting Georgian politician Givi Targamadze to discuss plans to seize power in cities across Russia, including the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
“Udaltsov confirmed that he had met with Georgian nationals in summer 2012, one of whom he named as Georgy Vasilievich,” Markin said earlier. “He said he was exploring legal sources of funding for the Left Front movement.”
When these allegations were first made, Udaltsov responded by calling the footage fake and said that he would seek the advice of his lawyers. He also claimed that the documentary was the start of new “wave of repression” that would target the leaders of the now 10-month-old protest movement against the rule of President Vladimir Putin.
“I was entirely open with investigators because I have nothing to hide. I’m not sure why the Investigative Committee has focused on some Georgy Vasilievich,” Udaltsov told RIA Novosti last week.
“I’ve met with dozens of people in recent months, including Georgians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians, as well as nationals of European countries. This is a normal thing for a political figure to do.”
“In some cases, we have sought funding for the Left Front from businessmen. But we have never discussed any kind of violent action or received any instructions or funding of any kind from any foreign secret services,” he stressed.
Udaltsov also reiterated that he had never met with Targamadze.
Targamadze, the head of the Georgian parliament’s defense and security committee and a close ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili, also slammed the documentary in an interview with Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, calling it “propaganda.”
The NTV documentary said Targamadze had helped organize the “color revolutions” that swept opposition leaders into power in Georgia and Ukraine in the 2000s amid mass protests over election-rigging allegations.