Ahead of an anti-Putin rally set for June 11 in Moscow, Russian investigators searched homes of several key opposition figures and summoned them for questioning shortly before the rally was to start. Here is a look at some of those leading the protests.
A 36-year-old corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger has played a key role in mobilizing Russia’s young Internet generation to rally against Vladimir Putin’s rule. The charismatic and ambitious Navalny spearheaded a series of rallies in Moscow during the winter that brought up to 100,000 people in the streets in the run-up to March’s vote in which Putin won a third presidential term. He reaches tens of thousands through his blog and has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter.
Navalny has tapped into people’s anger over the corruption that pervades public life, and has described Putin’s political party as the "party of crooks and thieves."
The leader of the Left Front opposition movement, 35-year-old Udaltsov has been at the forefront of the anti-Putin protests for several years. A great-grandson of a Bolshevik revolutionary, Udaltsov has consistently defied the authorities, staging unsanctioned marches and rallies. He also launched numerous hunger strikes and spent weeks in hospitals amid concerns about his health.
During his political career, Udaltsov was arrested more than 100 times and spent months in prison.
Udaltsov refused to show up for questioning along with other opposition figures summoned June 12 and headed right to the opposition march instead.
A 30-year-old socialite, TV host and restaurateur, who often has been described as a Russian equivalent of Paris Hilton, has become a new glamorous face of the opposition. Sobchak is the daughter of the late mayor of St.Petersburg who was Putin’s mentor in the 1990s.
A personal relationship with Putin initially seemed to shield Sobchak from reprisals, but that immunity seems to have come to an end with a raid on her apartment June 11. She tweeted June 12 that an investigator told her that she had made a mistake with mixing up with a "bad company." ”I never thought that we would slide back to such repressions," she said.
A 28-year-old member of the leadership of the opposition Solidarity movement, has been among key organizers of recent anti-Putin protests. A fiery speaker, Yashin is a passionate critic of the government.
"A smart government deals with reasons for protest. A stupid government fights protesters," he said on his blog.