Nemtsov Warned of Fake Cop

The Interior Ministry on Wednesday warned Moscow and St. Petersburg authorities that an impostor posing as a police officer might attempt to physically harm opposition activists during anti-Kremlin rallies in the cities on Saturday and Sunday.

The warning came on the same day as the event organizers, The Other Russia coalition, accused authorities of unlawfully cracking down on its members, several of whom said they had barricaded themselves into their own homes for fear of arrest.

Mikhail Solomentsev, City Hall's deputy spokesman, told Russian media that the ministry had sent City Hall a warning that Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov and others could be the victim of an attack by a fellow opposition activist dressed in police clothes, his secretary said Wednesday.

The reason for an attack would be to provoke a clash with police that would draw media attention to the oppositionists, added the secretary, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Neither the ministry nor Yevgeny Gildeyev, a spokesman for city police, could be reached despite repeated attempts Wednesday.

Vladimir Korobkov, a city police spokesman who deals exclusively with print media, said there would be no comment and that the press service was not "a rumor service."

It remains unclear where the information came from.

In reply, Nemtsov dismissed the warning as a ploy thought up by the authorities either as a scare tactic to deter oppositionists from attending or as an excuse for authorities to beat him up.

"It is the regime that wants to provoke a fight, not us," Nemtsov said.

"Anyway, even if there is credible information that someone has stolen a police uniform and is planning to attack me, then it is within police powers to track that person down and prevent an attack," he added.

Meanwhile, at least four people with links to The Other Russia locked themselves into their homes and denied anyone entry on Wednesday.

Vadimir Venkovsky, a member of both the banned National Bolshevik Party and The Other Russia, had locked himself and a 20-year-old Other Russia member in an apartment in northern Moscow, along with the 13-year-old daughter of the apartment's owner.

Another Other Russia activist, Alexei Tochnev, said by e-mail -- because he said he was afraid his phone was being tapped -- that he was also holed up in his Moscow apartment.

Both Tochnev and Venkovsky said police officers were stationed in their hallways. Police could not confirm the reports.