Russian police on Wednesday detained one of the last opposition figures still in the country and not behind bars, according to state media, after he reportedly criticised Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Politician Yevgeny Roizman, former mayor of the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, was detained for “discrediting” the Russian army in comments about Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
“Roizman was arrested early in the morning” at his home in Yekaterinburg, state news agency TASS said, quoting local law enforcement.
“A criminal case has been launched against him for discrediting the Russian army,” it added.
The charges are punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
A dozen armed police in camouflage on Wednesday burst into the 59-year-old’s home, according to a video posted on the Mash Telegram channel, reputed to be close to the Russian security services.
A police source quoted by TASS said the investigation was launched because of a video criticising Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, published on the politician’s YouTube channel.
Roizman has already been fined three times for criticising Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
The politician’s lawyer Vladislav Idamzhapov was not allowed to enter his client’s apartment where a search was underway, TASS said.
“It is a violation of the right to defence,” Idamzhapov was quoted as saying by TASS.
Opening his window for a few seconds, Roizman shouted to reporters gathered outside that he was being prosecuted for “discrediting” the army.
In a recent interview with AFP, Roizman said he has “no illusions” and understood that he could face arrest for his views.
“But I also have no fear,” he said.
Roizman was a lawmaker between 2003 and 2007. In 2013, he became Russia’s highest-profile opposition mayor and held the position for five years.
Last year he was sentenced to nine days in jail for urging people to join demonstrations in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Almost all of President Vladimir Putin’s prominent political opponents have either fled the country or are in jail.
Recently two opponents remaining in Russia, councillor Ilya Yashin and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, were placed in detention for denouncing the Ukraine conflict, facing up to ten years in prison.