Court Fines Yabloko Activists For Anti-Governor Leaflets
ST. PETERSBURG -- A district court in St. Petersburg on Monday fined several Yabloko party supporters 835 rubles, or $32, for distributing anti-Governor Vladimir Yakovlev leaflets over the weekend.
Yabloko said it would appeal.
"The court fined them for spreading leaflets with lies about Yakovlev ... without evidence that their content was false," said Igor Artyemev, Yabloko's local leader who is running against Yakovlev in next month's gubernatorial election.
A Yabloko statement said it "considers the ugly interference of police forces on the side of Yakovlev" unprecedented.
On Friday and Saturday afternoon, Yabloko supporters were distributing the leaflets around five metro stations when they were told by police to disperse, Yabl oko said in a statement.
In one case, city traffic police stopped a truck with Yabloko supporters in it and after reading a leaflet said: "What, you don't like Yakovlev?" and detained them, according to the statement.
Saying he did not want to interfere, Yakovlev said "all that happened to Yabloko has to be investigated and ruled on by the election commission," Interfax reported.
The distributed leaflets showed Yakovlev's face surrounded by criticizing questions. The questions included "Who screwed up housing and communal services and robbed citizens?"
The leaflets did not clarify that Yabloko was behind them, although they gave the name and number of the distributor.
Under election law, police have the right to confiscate campaign literature if the election commission rules it is printed anonymously or is fake. In addition, the law requires political parties in particular cases to show their literature to the commission prior to distribution.
The city election commission decided Monday that the Yabloko leaflets should have been submitted for approval.