SERPUKHOV, Russia (Reuters) – A Russian opposition activist accused the authorities of “cynical and immoral” behavior on Thursday after police briefly held two busloads of activists as they traveled to a colleague’s funeral.
Half a dozen riot policemen wielding submachine guns stopped the buses, carrying members of the Other Russia opposition movement, at a checkpoint just outside Moscow.
A Reuters reporter traveling with the convoy said the police explained they were conducting a security operation codenamed “Bus.” The buses were held up for 45 minutes while police checked passengers’ documents, then let them go.
The activists with Other Russia, a group uniting free-market liberals and neo-Bolsheviks, were heading to the town of Serpukhov, about 100 km (60 miles) south of Moscow, to attend the funeral of their 23-year-old colleague Yuri Chervochkin.
Chervochkin, a member of the radical National Bolshevik Party, died on Tuesday after three weeks in a coma.
He had been beaten with baseball bats by unknown assailants. His colleagues blamed the attack on police, though they have offered no direct proof. Moscow police this week declined to comment on the allegation.
“Riot police deliberately stopped the buses,” Marina Litvinovich, a senior member of the United Civil Front headed by Other Russia leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, told Reuters.
“This runs counter to any common sense, it’s just cynical and immoral,” she said. Kasparov was traveling to the funeral but in a separate car and he was not stopped, Litvinovich said.
Traffic police were not available for comment. A Moscow police spokeswoman said vehicles are being checked as a security precaution following a series of explosions on buses in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus region.