Duma Deputy Alleges Police Jammed Cell Phones at Opposition Forum

Anti-Seliger. Source: Daylife.comThis past weekend, participants of a four-day oppositionist forum held near Moscow found themselves mysteriously lacking a certain vital organizational tool: mobile phone service. Not only suspecting, but possessing photographic evidence of foul play, State Duma Deputy Anton Belyakov from the A Just Russia party says he has sent an inquiry to Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs asking them to explain why police jammed phone connections at the forum, Kasparov.ru reports.

“Many participants of the forum, including myself, were confronted with the fact that mobile phone service entirely disappeared at the entrance to the camp in the Khimki Forest,” Belyakov said on the website of A Just Russia on Tuesday. “Certain police officers told me under condition of anonymity that ‘jammers’ are definitely being used. They even told me where one of them was.”

Belyakov added that he took photographs and video footage of the devices used to jam cell phone service.

“I’ve already sent Ministry of Internal Affairs Chief Rashid Gumarovich Nurgaliyev a deputy inquiry demanding an explanation of the goal of the operation to suppress the mobile phone signal in the Khimki Forest,” he said.

ITAR-TASS reported late on Tuesday that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is denying that any jamming devices were used at Anti-Seliger and accused Belyakov of speaking “rubbish.”

The forum, dubbed “Anti-Seliger,” was held in the Khimki Forest outside Moscow from June 17-20. According to organizers, the goal of the event was to give oppositionist, environmental, and other activists an opportunity to share their experiences and learn from one another. Approximately 3000 people took part.

Over the course of the forum, lectures were given by prominent journalists, political analysts, and human rights activists, including Leonid Parfyonov, Artemy Troitsky, Stanislav Belkovsky, Oleg Kashin, Aleksei Navalny, Yelena Panfilova, Valery Panyushkin, and Igor Chestin.

Anti-Seliger was organized as an alternative to Seliger, an annual forum held by Russia’s Federal Agency for Youth Issues (Rosmolodezh) and the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi. Seliger is notorious for its grotesque displays of anti-oppositionist propaganda; past targets of harassment have included United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov, leading human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Nashi leaders have admitted that the group – and, by extension, the forum – were created “to prevent an Orange Revolution” ahead of Russia’s 2008 presidential election. According to public records, Rosmolodezh head Vasily Yakemenko plans to spend no less than 178 million rubles ($6.37 million USD) on Seliger 2011.