A Yabloko Leader Stops Eating in Jail

Yabloko's St. Petersburg leader has gone on a hunger strike to protest his arrest on charges of insulting and assaulting a police officer, his supporters said Wednesday.

Maxim Reznik was detained early Monday as he left the liberal party's St. Petersburg office, where he had been checking reports of violations in Sunday's presidential election. His asupporters said he was approached and beaten by plainclothes officers outside the building and that a uniformed policeman then detained him. The city's Dzerzhinsky District Court on Tuesday remanded him into custody for two months as investigators look into the case.

Reznik started the hunger strike Monday, said Yabloko spokesman Alexander Shurshev. His detention is probably linked to his role as the organizer of a conference on April 6 that will consider the future of the democratic opposition, Shurshev said.

Reznik's lawyers will appeal the decision to keep him in custody Thursday, said one of the lawyers, Boris Gruzd. The court will have three days to consider the appeal. If convicted of assault, Reznik faces up to five years in prison.

St. Petersburg police said only one person was authorized to comment on the case, chief police spokesman Vyacheslav Styopchenko. He did not answer repeated calls Wednesday.

Reznik could not be reached on his cell phone because police had confiscated it, said his mother, who answered her son's cell phone Wednesday.