Russian officials are keeping up their tough stance on anyone who speaks out against President Vladimir Putin. Police raids carried out recently on suspected anti-government protestors home were described by some as harking back to the era of 1930s Stalin.
Yesterday armed police blocked the entrance to the office of prominent opposition blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, as officers raided it. His lawyer was barred from the apartment for several hours as journalists gathered to witness the raid, which many deem to be yet another overly aggressive tactic by Putin to quash voices of dissent.
His spokesperson, Anna Veduta, said it's to stop him speaking at the sanctioned rally today which is set to draw tens of thousands of people. "So I am almost sure they are doing this to prevent us from participating in tomorrow's action, tomorrow's event, and I am sure they will do anything to prevent him from saying anything there, so they will ask him to go to officials for an 'interview' or something like that in order for him not to speak in the crowd."
But then 13 hours later investigators emerged with equipment from his house and Alexei spoke to waiting journalists saying: "They seized all phones, starting from the modern ones and up to some very old one which they have found, all computers, all laptops, all (such thing), just one home phone is left, so in this regard I'm somewhere in the 20th century now."
The authorised 'March of Millions' rally began in Moscow in good humour today, but many people might now be mindful of taking part in any unsanctioned street demos. Last Friday, Vladimir Putin swiftly pushed through a law effectively banning them and he increased the fine for anyone causing a public order offence to 300,000 roubles per person, (that's just over £5,800 pounds) with a fine for 1 million roubles (almost £20,000) for the organisers.
Written and Presented by Marverine Cole.