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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Manezh Bombing Fuels Environmentalists' Arrests

A bizarre leaflet about the evils of eating hamburgers that was found at the scene of the Manezh shopping center bombing appears to have given police new cause to go after radical environmentalists.

In arresting environmentalists and others, police have made wide use of the practice of planting drugs on them, human rights activists said Thursday.

On Sept. 6, one Moscow-based nuclear activist, Yakov Kochkaryov, was arrested and a second, Vladimir Slivyak, was detained. Slivyak, the director of the Anti-Nuclear Campaign, said police said they were suspected in the Aug. 31 bombing that fatally injured one person.

Slivyak said Thursday that plainclothes police detained him outside his building and forced him into a car, where they dangled a small bag of marijuana and threatened him with a three-year prison sentence if he refused to provide information on the bombing.

"But 90 percent of the questions concerned my environmental work," said Slivyak, who was released an hour and a half later. "Ten percent concerned the terrorist act on the Manezh."

Police were still holding Kochkaryov, a young activist who has taken part in several radical environmental actions and was associated with an anarchist movement. He is accused of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, Valery Nikolsky of the Moscow Helsinki Group said at a news conference Thursday.

But Slivyak said police told him during his interrogation that they had an order to arrest Kochkaryov in connection with the Aug. 31 explosion.

Nadezhda Burova, the investigator responsible for Kochkaryov's case, could not be reached for comment.

"After Manezh, they [police] were probably working as much on a theory that Chechens did it as on a theory that radical organizations did it, such as Pimenov's," Slivyak said.

The anti-consumerism leaflet found at the bombing scene, supposedly issued by the Union of Revolutionary Writers, said: "A hamburger not eaten to the end by the dead consumer is a revolutionary hamburger." The writers group head, Dmitry Pimenov, has denied any connection with the leaflet or the bombing.

Nikolsky said the police pressure on environmentalists can be looked at as "a continuation of the Nikitin and Pasko cases," referring to Alexander Nikitin and Grigory Pasko, two navy captains charged with espionage after exposing the navy's nuclear dumping practices.

In August, Anti-Nuclear Campaign activists camped out in the sanitary zone around the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant to protest construction of new reactors at the site. Several activists were arrested and later released.

Lev Levinson, an expert on the presidential human rights council, said reports of planted drugs have shot up in the past month. He said police just adapted methods from the '60s and '70s.

"Then, it was manuscripts of Solzhenitsyn typed on a typewriter," he said. "Now, drugs are the most common way."