Analysts worry that Leonid Razvozzhayev's alleged kidnapping from a Kiev street and subsequent imprisoning is start of a full-scale, no-holds-barred crackdown by Putin's Kremlin.
Russian secret services have allegedly carried out a "rendition" by plucking a Russian opposition figure, Leonid Razvozzhayev, from a Kiev street in broad daylight last Saturday and transferring him to Lefortovo prison in Moscow.
The alleged kidnapping occurred just as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was heading to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a variety of bilateral issues, including the price Russia charges Ukraine for natural gas.
The episode has Ukrainian human rights activists in an uproar over what looks like the completely illegal seizure of a foreign national on Ukrainian soil, and it has left many Russian experts fearful that the much-predicted, full-scale, no-holds-barred crackdown against the anti-Kremlin opposition has begun.
"When you think of the things that have happened in the past few months, it's already a changed environment. Many people are already in jail, and every day brings some fresh shock like this kidnapping," says Masha Lipman, editor of the Moscow Carnegie Center's Pro et Contra journal.
"Putin and his government are being drawn into a vicious cycle of repression against people who defy him. I can't see how this could be stopped now," she adds.
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