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Limonov Goes on Trial

Ultranationalist writer and politician Eduard Limonov went on trial Monday accused of trying to form a private army that the Federal Security Service says planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan.

Limonov, outspoken leader of the small National Bolshevik Party, is being tried in the southern city of Saratov with five colleagues, Itar-Tass reported.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, has accused them of attempting to create an illegal armed formation and acquiring weapons to prepare for terrorist acts, Itar-Tass said.

Limonov and the head of his party's newspaper, Sergei Aksyonov, are also accused of calling for a change in Russia's constitutional order -- a suggestion that they urged the government's overthrow.

The FSB said that in February 2001, Limonov and the other men formed a ring that was trying to acquire weapons and ammunition in Saratov and bring them to a small town in the remote Altai region near the Kazakh border.

Three of the men were detained in early 2001 with a total of six automatic weapons, 83 rounds of ammunition, two detonators and 960 grams of a powerful explosive, the FSB said, according to Itar-Tass.

It said Limonov and Aksyonov were trying to form a "National Bolshevik Army" and planning terrorist acts in northern Kazakhstan, where many members of the Central Asian country's large ethnic Russian minority live.

Limonov, a critic of the Soviet system who lived abroad for many years, returned to Russia and became an extreme nationalist, lamenting the Soviet breakup and championing the cause of ethnic Russians in former Soviet republics. He is known for his sexually explicit, mostly autobiographical books, which also contain extreme nationalist statements.

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