Russia vote watchdog head detained before election

By REUTERS
December 3, 2011 13:07

 
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MOSCOW - The head of an independent Russian election watchdog was detained for 12 hours at a Moscow airport on Saturday as part of attempts to stop it monitoring Sunday's vote for a new parliament, the group's lawyer said.

Golos leader Liliya Shibanova was held by customs officers at Sheremetyevo airport after returning from a trip abroad on the eve of the election, in which Vladimir Putin's United Russia is likely to have its huge parliamentary majority reduced.

The Western-funded group's lawyer, Ramid Akhmetgaliyev, told Reuters the customs officers copied contents of her laptop computer and Golos deputy head Grigory Melkonyants said her laptop had been confiscated.

Hours earlier, the United States had expressed concern about "what appears to be a pattern of harassment" of Golos, which has aired reports of alleged violations in Russian elections.

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