Jailed Russian protest leader goes on hunger strike

25th July 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov began a hunger strike on Friday, a day after being sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for inciting public unrest.

"Today is the first day of the indefinite hunger strike declared by Udaltsov. He is in Prison Number One and has been transferred to a solitary cell," said the Twitter blog formerly kept by Udaltsov and now updated by his allies.

Udaltsov, a leftist opposition leader, and his co-defendant Leonid Razvozzhayev were convicted on Thursday of fomenting mass riots ahead of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration to a third term in 2012.

Human rights organisations say their prosecution was politically-motivated and the punishment too harsh.

Udaltsov wrote a letter to the head of the prison in Moscow informing him that was going on hunger strike, said prison service spokesman Sergei Tsygankov.

"As a motive he indicated his disagreement with the court decision," Tsygankov told AFP. Udaltsov is still drinking water and will be monitored by prison doctors, but the hunger strike will not keep him from being transferred to serve his sentence in a penal colony, Tsygankov told AFP.

Udaltsov has frequently gone on hunger strike in the past while being held for unauthorised protests.

Prison Number One is also called Matrosskaya Tishina, and is infamous as the facility where lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in 2009 while being held under pre-trial arrest.

© 2014 AFP

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