- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court today sentenced a leader of the banned National Bolshevik Party and six other activists to prison for a protest staged two years ago during a court hearing on the group’s fate, the group said.

The statement said the Tagansky District Court found Roman Popkov and the other activists guilty of hooliganism and weapons charges stemming from the protest. They received sentences ranging in length from 1½ to 2½ years.

Court officials did not answer phones after hours today.

Several of those sentenced today have been in jail since their arrests, which followed a scuffle with members of a pro-Kremlin youth group outside a Moscow court in April 2006, the party said.

At the time, the Bolsheviks’ leader, Eduard Limonov, was inside attending a hearing on whether to shut down the organization.

The group is not a political party but a loose-knit grouping of anarchists, nationalists and anti-government activists. They gained notoriety for staging street theater and public pranks — usually targeting President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Since the ban, the group has had a much lower profile. Limonov has joined the opposition coalition, Other Russia.

Police detained three other activists who hung a banner along the outside a building across from the Tagansky court and lighted flares while yelling: “Freedom for the National Bolsheviks!”

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