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Russian police raid homes of opposition leaders ahead of major rally

Opposition leader: "They practically cut out the door."

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Russian riot policemen detain an opposition supporter during a rally in central Moscow on May 8, 2012. Over 400 people have been detained in the past 48 hours for protesting Dmitry Medvedev's candidacy as President Vladimir Putin's premier and Putin's reelection, after a British human rights report criticized Russia's record on freedom of assembly. (ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian police today ransacked the homes of key opposition leaders a day before a major protest rally is to take place in the nation's capital, reported The Washington Post

The protest leaders -- many of them outspoken critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin -- have been ordered to report to the police on the morning of June 12. This prevents them from attending their own protest event, said The Washington Post

More from GlobalPost: Russia passes controversial protest bill

Russian authorities have been preparing for the June 12 demonstration in a variety of ways. Parliament, which is controlled by a party loyal to Putin, recently passed a bill tightening restrictions on protest activity. And today, the Interior Ministry said 70,000 police officers and 9,000 soldiers are being mobilized for the event, according to Bloomberg

Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition blogger, protest leader, and critic of the disputed December parliamentary elections that saw a major win by the pro-Putin United Russia party, was among those searched.

"They practically cut out the door" and even took "children's photos," Navalny wrote on his Twitter account, according to the Irish Times

Meanwhile, the Twitter hashtag Hello 1937 has surfaced in response to today's searches, a comparison to raids made under Stalin in 1937, said The Washington Post

The Investigative Committee today said a total of 10 raids were made in connection to an earlier protest “that ended in mass disturbances," according to Agence France-Press. The event in question was likely the 20,000-strong May 6 anti-government protest that led to clashes between security forces and demonstrators the night before Putin was inaugurated for his third presidential term, said AFP

The planned June 12 anti-government protest, called by the opposition in Moscow and in cities around the nation, falls on Russia Day Holiday, said Bloomberg
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120610/russian-police-raid-homes-opposition-leaders-ahead-major-