Mother Can't Visit Yabloko Activist

The mother of Maxim Reznik, the jailed leader of Yabloko's St. Petersburg branch, said Friday that she was being prevented from seeing her son by investigators worried that he would use the meeting to protest his detention.

Galina Malinovskaya, Reznik's mother, said investigators had expressed dismay that her son had made phone calls from his cell to order rallies and a letter-writing campaign on his behalf.

She said investigators feared an escalation in his protest if she visited him.

She said the investigator in her son's case, Mikhail Kalganov, and his supervisor, Pavel Vymenets, had voiced their misgivings in separate conversations in recent days.

Kalganov and Vymenets were not speaking to reporters Friday. Yelena Ordyntseva, an aide to the St. Petersburg's prosecutor and the only law enforcement official authorized to talk to the media, did not answer her phone.

Reznik was detained March 3 as he left his office, where he had been checking reports of voting violations during the March 2 presidential election. He was subsequently charged with insulting and beating a policeman. A court on March 4 remanded him into custody for two months, pending an investigation. Reznik has denied wrongdoing.

On Friday, about 20 prominent cultural figures, including writer Boris Strugatsky, movie director Alexei German and Olympic cross-country skiing champion Lyubov Yegorova, released a petition addressed to the country's leadership calling for Reznik's immediate release. Calling his arrest a "mistake," the letter went on to say, "such mistakes undermine trust in the court system, poison the public consciousness and ultimately discredit the authorities."

Also Friday, Yabloko activist Maxim Kruglov protested Reznik's detention outside the Prosecutor General's Office. Police detained him at about 1 p.m.

"It was a one-man picket, and no official permission was needed," said Yabloko's Moscow leader, Sergei Mitrokhin. "But Kruglov was joined by a man who unfolded a banner. The police detained them both because two people need permission to picket."

Mitrokhin, a Moscow City Duma deputy, accused the man who joined Kruglov of being a provocateur.

Police briefly detained two other people -- Ilya Yashin, the leader of Yabkoko's youth branch, and opposition activist Maria Gaidar -- for protesting Reznik's arrest outside the Prosecutor General's Office on Thursday.

In another development, St. Petersburg prosecutors searched Yabloko's local office on Thursday. They examined the premises and took a copy of the party's charter and registration documents with them when they left, said a spokesman for the office, Alexander Shurshev. On Wednesday, St. Petersburg authorities asked Yabloko to give up the office it rents there.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinksy held a rare private meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and won an assurance that Putin would personally look into Reznik's detention.

Staff Writer Svetlana Osadchuk contributed to this report.