Ever since a protest movement fueled in part by social media erupted to challenge Vladimir Putin’s re-ascension to the Russian presidency, several opposition figures have found themselves arrested, charged and facing lengthy prison sentences. Only the latest one actually tweeted his own arrest and interrogation.
“I am being taken in for questioning by the SK,” protest leader Sergei Udaltsov tweeted on Wednesday, referring to the Russian equivalent of the FBI, the State Investigative Agency. Hours before, he announced on Twitter that his apartment had been raided. His computer was reportedly seized along with documents and cash. Elsewhere police raided the homes of his assistant, Konstantin Lebedev; and Ilya Ponomaryov, an assistant to a lawmaker in the Just Russia opposition party. Then he tweeted: “Brought to the SK. We are waiting for a lawyer to start questioning.” Several more tweets followed, including one: ”Do not be silent!”
Tweets from him, at least, went silent for hours after that. Instead, his Twitter account began retweeting messages from activists who had spoken with Udaltsov on the phone. They learned Udaltsov had been placed under house arrest. Late Wednesday, he was released: “Friends! My way out of the UK on bail – much your merit. Thanks for your support! Now we must fight for Lebedev!” he tweeted. His supporters have also since created a Facebook group to organize a protest set for Saturday. Protest leader Alexei Navalny — perhaps Russia’s most popular blogger — also kept tabs on the group. “What did they do? What crime was committed? Where is the evidence? Where, at least, common sense?” he blogged.