The Russian authorities detained the dissident ex-mayor

MOSCOW (AP) — The former mayor of Russia’s fourth-largest city was arrested Thursday on charges that could force him…

MOSCOW (AP) — The former mayor of Russia’s fourth-largest city was detained Thursday on charges that could land him behind bars, part of an effort by authorities to crack down on dissent.

Evgeny Roizman, a harsh critic of the Kremlin, is one of the most famous and charismatic opposition figures in Russia. He was widely popular when he served as mayor of Yekaterinburg, a city of 1.5 million people in the Ural Mountains.

Roizman, 60, who served as mayor from 2013 to 2018, was charged last year with discrediting the Russian military and banned from public events, internet, phone or mail, and from communicating with anyone except his lawyers and close relatives.

Police arrested Roizman on Thursday on charges of reposting materials containing references to an organization banned by the authorities and led by jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. Roizman’s lawyer rejected the accusations, saying that the ex-mayor is not even registered on this social network, and the repost was made by members of one of his many support groups.

If convicted, Roizman could face up to 15 days in jail or potentially new criminal charges related to his alleged probation violation last year.

Courts last year repeatedly fined Roizman on charges of discrediting the military, paving the way for criminal charges to be brought against repeat offenders.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine last year, Russian lawmakers approved a law banning allegedly shaming the Russian military or spreading “false information” about the country’s military operation in Ukraine. Courts across the country are increasingly handing out prison terms to critics of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Roizman remains one of the few prominent opposition figures in Russia who has not yet been imprisoned or fled the country under pressure from the authorities. Prominent opposition politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison on charges of discrediting the army, and another opposition figure, Uladzimir Kara-Murza, was imprisoned on the same charges and is currently on trial.

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