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Udaltsov Ally Gets 2 1/2 Years

Konstantin Lebedev AP

A close ally of opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in a penal colony on Thursday for plotting mass riots at last May's rally on Bolotnaya Ploshchad, which ended in violence and mass detentions.

Konstantin Lebedev, who pleaded guilty to the charges, said he would not appeal the Moscow City Court's ruling but would ask for an early release, Interfax reported.

While reading out the sentence, the judge said Lebedev had received a shorter sentence than that asked for by prosecutors — five years — because he had cooperated with investigators and provided testimony against the other individuals accused of organizing mass riots, Lenta.ru reported.

Anastasia Udaltsova, Sergei Udaltsov's wife and a spokeswoman for his Left Front organization, said Thursday that Lebedev was "innocent" and that he had "slandered all his allies" by confirming the authenticity of a video used as evidence.

The video, first aired on state-run television in October, purportedly showed Lebedev, Udaltsov, their ally Leonid Razvozzhayev and Georgian politician Givi Targamadze discussing ways to organize riots in Moscow, though Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev have both denied that the video is real.

Udaltsova said Lebedev had "come out of the water almost dry" and would likely be released in a year. But Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev, who face similar convictions and who haven't agreed to a plea bargains with investigators, can get terms from five to eight years, she said.

In accordance with the Criminal Code, the charges of plotting mass riots carry a punishment of four to 10 years in prison.

Udaltsov has denied being acquainted with Targamadze, while Razvozzhayev first said he was guilty of the charges but later reversed his testimony, saying it was given under pressure from investigators.

President Vladimir Putin said in a December interview that the three men were filmed "accidentally" in "controlled premises," possibly referring to monitoring by security services.? 

The Liberal-leaning Vlast magazine in mid-April reported that Lebedev met Targamadze in Kiev during the 2004 Orange Revolution and later worked for his team in Belarus.

Vlast also identified Lebedev as a member of the pro-Kremlin group Moving Together between 2001 and 2005.

Lebedev has attributed his activism to a desire to earn money and study the activities of political opponents. He also later co-led the Smena movement, which cooperated with the liberal and leftist opposition.

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