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Russian activist may be sent to Siberia

FILE - This undated image shows Leonid Razvozzhayev speaking in an undisclosed location.

APTV/AP Photo

FILE - This undated image shows Leonid Razvozzhayev speaking in an undisclosed location.

MOSCOW — A jailed Russian opposition activist who says he was kidnapped and tortured will remain in custody and may be sent to Siberia as part of a 15-year-old investigation into the theft of 500 fur hats.

Moscow’s Basmanny district court ruled Wednesday that Leonid Razvozzhayev should be held until April, granting the request of investigators who have charged him with plotting mass riots aimed at overthrowing the government. The investigators also said they needed to send Razvozzhayev to Siberia for questioning in the 1997 robbery.

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Razvozzhayev’s case became a cause celebre for the opposition after he said he was kidnapped in Ukraine in October, tortured for two days, and forced to sign a false confession, which he later retracted. Prosecutors say he turned himself in and deny the allegations of torture.

After Razvozzhayev retracted his confession, prosecutors filed charges against him in other cases.

In one case, he is accused of leading a group brandishing hunting rifles and pistols that burst into a businessman’s apartment, taped him to a chair, beat him, and left with a video camera and 500 fur hats in the eastern Siberian city of Angarsk in December 1997.

Defense lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky said the charges were a ruse aimed at sending Razvozzhayev to Siberia, where it would be more difficult to guarantee his safety.

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