Customs confiscate Russian election monitor's laptop: NGO

3rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of a Russian election monitoring group Golos was held for nearly 12 hours Saturday by customs officials who confiscated her computer on the pretext that it had illegal software, she said.

The Moscow-based NGO has seen unprecedented pressure ahead of Russia's parliamentary polls Sunday in what it called an attempt to prevent them from exposing election violations.

Liliya Shibanova had stepped off the plane after midnight Friday when customs officers at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport demanded that she hand over her laptop for an evaluation of whether it contained illegal programs.

"They are packing it up right now," she told AFP after spending 10 hours in customs refusing their demands and waiting for her lawyer.

Nobody was available to comment at Sheremetyevo customs office on Saturday morning.

Shibanova said the move was simply a continuation of pressure on her organisation, which has already been a target of a smear documentary and was fined about $970 Friday after a court ruled it broke election regulations through the use of its website.

"They wanted to (silence us) through the courts, that didn't work. Now they are trying to prevent me from leaving the country" ahead of a planned trip to the European parliament next week to talk about the polls, she said.

"There is no guarantee that they won't upload anything" on the disk to later use against her in a criminal investigation, she said. "This is a provocation directed personally against me."

© 2011 AFP

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