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Police Raids Target Moscow Opposition Activists Planning Constitution Rally

Police carried out several raids Tuesday. Maxim Grigoryev / TASS

Police in Moscow have raided the homes of several opposition activists and city council members planning protests against Russia’s newly adopted constitution, the opposition MBKh Media news website reported early Thursday.

Authorities detained Andrei Pivovarov, a high-ranking member of exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia pro-democracy movement, Interfax reported later in the day.

Pivovarov’s colleague Dmitry Zair-Bek told Interfax that a court database contained information about nine searches related to Open Russia.

Moscow police earlier in the day carried out raids on the homes of municipal lawmaker Yulia Galyamina, Open Russia coordinators Tatyana Usmanova and Olga Gorelik and MBKh Media chief editor Sergei Prostakov. The raids also targeted the coordinator of Open Russia’s legal defense team Alexei Pryanishnikov in the Siberian city of Tomsk, according to MBKh Media.

The activists said that officers did not let their lawyers inside the homes during the raids.

A group formed by Open Russia and lawmaker Galyamina plans to hold a demonstration Wednesday against President Vladimir Putin’s constitutional reforms. A previous rally on the day of the vote on the changes on July 1 gathered an estimated 300 people in central Moscow.

Open Russia chairwoman Anastasia Burakova linked the raids to the 2003 court case over Khodorkovsky’s defunct oil giant Yukos, according to MBKh Media.

Open Russia spokesman Konstantin Fomin suggested that the underlying reason for the raids could be the group’s planned rally against the controversial constitutional reforms on July 15.

In addition to enshrining a slew of populist economic measures and social conservative ideals, the reforms allow Putin to extend his 20-year rule by another 12 years when his current presidential term ends in 2024.

Official results showed nearly 78% support for the new constitution with 68% turnout. Data scientists and observers have said the week-long vote was marred by unprecedented amounts of fraud.

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