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Kremlin Crackdown Begins

It’s not just opposition figures Sergei Udaltsov, three members of punk band Pussy Riot, and Alexei Kozlov that the Kremlin have cracked down on with jail time this month (Kozlov’s shocking five-year sentence taking an hour to read aloud in court yesterday, and widely thought to have been particularly harsh due to his wife Olga Romanova’s roles as an activist and journalist).  Environmental activists in Krasnodar have also been charged and face up to five years in prison for ‘hooliganism’.  Alexei Navalny has been fined for his role in last week’s opposition protest, and staff working at his anti-corruption blog were summoned for questioning on Tuesday.  This all amounts to the end of Russia’s ‘winter of tolerance’, says the Washington Post.

“It’s a sign of the beginning of repressions against civic activists,” Sergei Mitrokhin, head of the Yabloko party, said in a statement on the arrests.

“Because the election has passed and Putin was elected, they think now they can do anything they want,” said Anna Sergeyeva, an independent who won a seat on the Lefortovo district council and had come to Kozikhinsky on Wednesday to lend her support. “Now people are angry. And people are learning how to organize themselves.”