Twelve Anti-Putin Protesters Face Trial

Created: 2013-06-06 18:57 EST

Category: World > Europe

Twelve Russians could face long prison terms over clashes with police in a case Kremlin critics liken to Soviet-era show trials of dissidents.

The pre-trial hearing was held on Thursday in the "Bolotnaya" case, named for the Moscow square where violence broke out at a rally the day before Putin was sworn in for his third term in May 2012. 

A total of nearly 30 people face trial or prosecution over the May 6, 2012 protest.

[Vladamir, Activist]:

"We think all these cases are fabricated. They are not guilty. There were no disturbances, the event was just badly organised. The city administration was responsible for bad organisation, and we think they did it on purpose." 

Activists say Putin is determined to clampdown on dissent.

The protesters and human rights activists accused police of using excessive force and squeezing protesters into a confined space, causing panic.

Putin has signed laws activists say restrict freedom, civic groups are under pressure from prosecutors and prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny could be sentenced to 10 years in prison in a trial he says is politically motivated.

The pre-trial hearing comes before a planned protest march on June 12 on a route ending at Bolotnaya Square.