Hackers broke into a prominent Russian opposition leader’s Twitter and e-mail accounts, sending his followers abusive messages.
Alexei Navalny’s spokeswoman, Anna Veduta, warned his quarter of a million Twitter followers early on Tuesday that the stream of nasty notes was fake.
Late on Tuesday night, she confirmed that Navalny had regained control over his Twitter account.
“I missed you all terribly, and also life without Twitter is HELL,” he tweeted. “You have no idea what is going on and you have to get your news from the INTERNET!”
Among other things, the hackers had written: “Alexei Navalny is a crook and thief 2.0” in his profile.
“I’m disbanding my sect, but I’m not going to give you your money back because I need it to party in Mexico, so you can all go to hell,” one tweet read.
Navalny is a graft-fighting lawyer and popular blogger who has tapped into Russians’ anger over the corruption that pervades public life. After he described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political party as the “party of crooks and thieves,” the catchphrase stuck.
Navalny has solicited donations to support the work of his Web site and a team of lawyers who study government tenders for evidence of corruption. He claims the government has withdrawn scandalous tenders for various goods and services worth millions of US dollars after they were exposed by his site.
The 36-year-old opposition leader has been at the forefront of major anti-Putin protests. His home and office were raided and he was interrogated several times as part of a probe into violence at a May 6 opposition rally.
Navalny linked the hackings to his personal computer and iPad being seized by police in a raid on his apartment on June 11. In a Facebook message, he wrote he was “sure that the hacking was performed with the help of seized hardware” and demanded that the hackers be found and charged.
Meanwhile, more than 100 of Russia’s best-known actors, directors and musicians yesterday called for the release of three young women detained after singing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich and from the punk rock group Pussy Riot have been held in pre-trial detention since March over their performance of a “punk prayer” in the Church of Christ the Savior.
“We do not see any legal foundation or practical sense in further isolating from society these young women who present no real danger,” said the letter, published in the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily and signed by 103 artists.
The signatories included well-known opponents of Putin, like the detective author Boris Akunin, poet Dmitry Bykov and the rock singer Yury Shevchuk.
In a virtual who’s who of the Russian cultural elite, other prominent names included the film director Andrei Konchalovsky, the ballet dancer Nikolai Tsikaridze and the composer Leonid Desyatnikov.