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Undercover Agent Serves As Witness in Trial of 12

Published: May 30, 2012 (Issue # 1710)

The prosecution presented its most intriguing witness yet during the trial of the 12 Other Russia activists Tuesday. An undercover agent, who reported to counter-extremism Center E on the activists meetings and protests, took the stand at the trials latest session.

Identified in court as Mikhail Sazonov, the witness testified from another room, with his answers heard in the courtroom. His voice was electronically distorted to ensure his safety in compliance with a motion made by Prosecutor Nadezhda Filimonova during Fridays hearing.

Vyborgsky District Court Judge Sergei Yakovlev rejected a motion made by defendant Andrei Dmitriyev, chair of The Other Russias local branch, to verify whether or not the witness was the real Sazonov and whether he was alone in the room without a Center E officer with him to prompt him.

The prosecution hopes to prove that the activities of the defendants meetings, rallies or other forms of protest were in reality the activities of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Most of the defendants were members of the party before it was banned for being extremist in 2007.

Sazonov claimed that he filled in a membership form on the website in March 2009 because he was interested in knowing what the opposition was like. After two meetings he said he went to Center E, whose address he found using the Yandex search engine, and was invited to cooperate with Center E by Officer Dmitry Gryaznov.

On Tuesday, Sazonov said he went to Center E because he realized that the NBP organization was banned. According to him, he went to one rally Strategy 31, a rally in defense of the constitutional right of assembly, in late 2009 (he said he didnt remember what month it was) and saw banned NBP flags there.

However, Strategy 31 was launched in St. Petersburg on Jan. 31, 2010 by several opposition groups as a non-partisan campaign that insists it does not use party flags.

According to the indictment, Sazonov identified all of the 12 defendants in the 60 photographs shown to him during the investigation, but on Tuesday he managed to identify only four when the photographs were shown to him in his separate room.

The defense believe Sazonov who introduced himself to the activists as Ruben, according to Dmitriyev was an undercover police operative from the very start, planted by Center E to report on the activists. He also recommended an apartment that had been equipped with surveillance cameras and microphones to the group for their meetings.

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Saturday, Aug. 23

Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.

Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.

Sunday, Aug. 24

The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.

Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.

Monday, Aug. 25

Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.

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