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Moscow Court Puts Opposition Leader Udaltsov Under House Arrest

A Moscow court tightened controls over Sergei Udaltsov, ordering house arrest for the opposition leader, who faces a maximum 10 years in prison after being charged with conspiring to organize mass unrest.

The house arrest is effective until April 6 and Udaltsov has until tomorrow to appeal against it, an official at the Basmanny District Court, which issued the ruling Feb. 9, said today by phone, asking not to be identified because of court policy. Udaltsov didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

Udaltsov said on his Twitter Inc. account that his contact with the outside world will be limited to relatives and lawyers. Investigators asked for house arrest, saying Udaltsov has violated travel restrictions, making it hard to summon him, and has continued to conduct unlawful activities by taking part in unsanctioned political protests, the Investigative Committee said Feb. 8.

Udaltsov, 35, emerged as a protest leader after joining the movement starting at the end of 2011 as thousands took to the streets to denounce alleged fraud in parliamentary elections and the extended rule of Vladimir Putin, who won a new six-year presidential term in March 2012.

The investigative committee’s charges against Udaltsov stemmed from a documentary aired on the NTV television channel, owned by state-controlled OAO Gazprom, in October. The show accused Udaltsov of meeting with an official from Georgia, the Caucasus country with which Russia fought a five-day war in 2008, in an effort to raise funding and organize riots in Moscow and other regions.

Udaltsov said by phone on Feb. 8 that he had never violated the travel restrictions. In October, he said he “couldn’t identify” himself in the NTV broadcast and rejected accusations of plotting riots.

More than a dozen protesters are in pre-trial detention, some for more than six months, since a May 6 demonstration ended with violent clashes with police.

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