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Activist Threatened After Yacht Photo

A Moscow community leader said Monday that she has received anonymous phone threats after she posted a picture of a local official standing beside a yacht bearing his name.

Yelena Zubova, who represents residents who oppose new construction in the city's southern Yasenevo district, refused to say whether she linked the threats to a picture that she posted on her group's web site last Monday of senior district official Alexander Korneyev standing by a yacht named "Alexander K."

Zubova said she copied the picture from Korneyev's page on the social network Odnoklassniki.ru.

On Yasenevo2.ru, the web site that Zubova edits, an inscription above the picture reads: "Yasenevo DEZ head Alexander Korneyev beside the yacht Alexander K." The post didn't say the yacht belonged to Korneyev.

DEZ is the Russian acronym for state- or city-owned unitary enterprises that provide housing services. The DEZ in Yasenevo is state-owned.

Zubova said she received a phone call Thursday afternoon from a man who warned her that "the ground will burn under your feet" and she should not "stand in others' way."

At 3 a.m. Friday, the same man threatened by phone to "come to your home and deal with you," she said.

The man did not identify himself either time and spoke with an accent characteristic of a Caucasus native, she said.

Korneyev told The Moscow Times that the yacht was not his and that he would file a defamation lawsuit in a district court against the editor of Yasenevo2.ru, saying he didn't know who the editor was.

After the first threatening phone call, Zubova filed a complaint with the police and told Konstantin Yanauskas, a leader of the Solidarity opposition group, who posted the information on his LiveJournal blog.

By late Monday, more than 250 bloggers had reposted Yanauskas' posts about the threats.

"I hope that those behind the threats will get scared because my case has received so much publicity," Zubova said.

Yanauskas has reposted more pictures, which he wrote were also from Korneyev's page on Odnoklassniki.ru. The pictures show Korneyev wearing a ship captain's cap, vacationing on Bali, sitting in the back seat of a black foreign-made car with dark-tinted windows and driving a snowmobile.

Yanauskas said by phone that he would ask Moscow prosecutors and the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee within the next few days to check whether Korneyev's "income corresponds with his expenses."

Federal and regional — but not municipal — officials are obliged to publish income declarations, according to a decree signed by Medvedev in May 2009.

In January, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to examine the income declarations of city officials for possible discrepancies in spending and punish anyone who "deliberately understates" his wealth.

Zubova and her fellow activists have campaigned against various construction projects in the district since 2006.

Among the latest projects are the construction of a shopping center in an area initially set aside for a boulevard, cutting down a local forest for the extension of an above-ground or an underground segment of a metro line, and the construction of an apartment building for a government agency.

There are few vacant land plots for development in Moscow, and new construction often disrupts the tranquility of life sought by residents.

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