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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiriyenko Blames City Hall for Office Raid

The campaign staff of Sergei Kiriyenko, who is challenging Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in the mayoral race, accused City Hall on Wednesday of being behind a raid on its headquarters.

Kiriyenko's Union of Right Forces, which is fielding candidates in the parliamentary elections as well, also had its campaign posters removed from city trolleybuses recently, apparently on the orders of the city government.

Marat Gelman, the head of the movement's campaign staff, said three employees of the city election commission and a handful of policemen armed with assault rifles showed up at campaign headquarters Tuesday evening.

"They were pretty obnoxious," Gelman said. "They walked around unwrapping our printed materials, trying to figure out the scale of distribution."

They produced a letter from the election commission requesting Kiriyenko's staff to provide various documents related to the campaign, he said.

The letter did not appear to have the legal authority of a search warrant, Gelman said, and the commission officials withdrew after the campaign staff's lawyer arrived and questioned the legality of the search.

City election commission officials refused to comment Wednesday.

Gelman said the raid was just one part of an anti-Kiriyenko campaign run by City Hall in the run-up to the mayoral and parliamentary elections, both to be held Dec. 19. Previously, Union of Right Forces activists have been detained, rallies have been banned and outdoor advertising removed, he said.

In recent days, posters have been removed from public transportation. Letters from trolleybus garages No. 4 and No. 6 and from the Rusakov tram depot to the Union's advertising companies contained an identical paragraph:

"City public transportation is a source of high danger, thus any disturbances for passengers can lead to traffic accidents, spontaneous rallies, acts of vandalism, damage to property and other illegal activities."

The letters said the posters were capable of causing confusion and disturbances among passengers.

Officials in the transport offices said on condition of anonymity that the posters' removal was ordered by the city government's transportation and communication department.