A close ally of opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov has confirmed the authenticity of a video clip that purportedly shows Udaltsov and two other leftist activists plotting mass unrest with a senior Georgian politician. The clip made headlines last year and led to a criminal case against the men.
Left Front activist Konstantin Lebedev previous denied that the clip was real, but on Monday, his lawyer told Interfax that Lebedev had told investigators that he, Udaltsov, and a third activist, had in fact been "in that place at that time" and that the dialogue in the video is authentic.
Udaltsov, currently under house arrest, condemned the confession, which Lebedev's lawyer said was part of a plea bargain that would accelerate Lebedev's case.
"Sergei Udaltsov believes that by confessing to the crime, Konstantin Lebedev showed unacceptable weakness and betrayed his comrades," read a message on Udaltsov's Twitter blog, which has been run by his supporters since February, Interfax reported.
The message was later deleted, and in a subsequent post, Udaltsov suggested that Lebedev had agreed to the plea deal to secure a lighter sentence. If convicted of organizing mass unrest, Lebedev will face up to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors have pointed to the video, which was initially aired on state-controlled NTV television, as proof that Udaltsov, Lebedev and Leonid Razvozzhayev worked with Georgian politician Givi Targamadze to mastermind violent clashes between protesters and police at a massive rally in May.
The men also tried to instigate uprisings in Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, and other provincial cities, recruiting and training would-be participants, prosecutors told Interfax.
About 400 people were detained at the May protest, which coincided with the beginning of Vladimir Putin's third term as president. Eighteen face criminal charges for their alleged role in the melee, and their release has become a rallying cry for the flagging protest movement.