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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nizhny Novgorod Writer Detained

Author and opposition activist Zakhar Prilepin was detained by police on his return home to Nizhny Novgorod from a trip to Moscow to receive an award for his latest novel.

Prilepin, the editor of the Nizhny Novgorod bureau of Novaya Gazeta and a member of the opposition movement The Other Russia and the banned National Bolshevik Party, said he was detained at the train station police office Wednesday.

"They kept me there for two hours, saying they were waiting for organized crime department officials to come," Prilepin said Thursday by telephone from Nizhny Novgorod.

He said the head of the local organized crime department, Maxim Bedyrev, ultimately arrived to question him about a trip he made to Warsaw last week to attend a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Bedyrev was particularly interested in the details of meetings Prilepin had with representatives from six embassies, he said.

Alexander Gorbatov, a spokesman for the Nizhny Novgorod police, said he had no information about the incident. Bedyrev could not be reached for comment.

Prilepin had been in Moscow to receive the Yasnaya Polyana award for modern authors writing in the tradition of Russian realism. He was given the award for the novel, "Sankya."

Nizhny Novgorod opposition activists have long complained of random detention by law enforcement authorities.

Prilepin, an organizer of a Dissenters' March in Nizhny Novgorod in March, said he had grown accustomed to being the focus of police attention.

"Every time I travel the police check on me, but since they do not always recognize my face they end up checking all of the men around me," he said. "I usually wave to them and say, 'Here I am guys, leave the other men alone.'"

Prilepin was one of the young Russian writers to meet with President Vladimir Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence this February, after which he wrote a biting story about the gathering, quoting Putin's words of farewell to the group: "As they say in St. Petersburg -- time to beat it."