RIGA - A Riga court has decided to arrest the controversial former leader of the National Bolshevik Party wanted for a number of serious charges including the alleged planning of an assassination attempt on former President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
Vladimir Linderman, who has spent the past six years hiding out in Russia, was extradited to Latvia on March 20. The Riga Regional Court ruled to arrest the alleged assassin on April 15.
Linderman, who also goes by the nom de guerre "Abel," stands accused of orchestrating a plot to kill Vike-Freiberga in 2002 along with three other members of the Latvian branch of the National Bolshevik Party, a group that adheres to extremist ideology.
He was arrested in Russia earlier this year for breaches of the Russian immigration code.
During his time in Russia, Linderman worked extensively with opposition parties and ultimately became the de facto leader of the National Bolshevik Party in Moscow and one of the leading members of The Other Russia political coalition.
The spearhead behind The Other Russia, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, drafted a letter blasting the case against Linderman on April 7. It was addressed to the Latvian president, interior minister and prosecutor-general.
"He is accused of storing explosives and of calling for the overthrow of the political system. We have reason to believe that the current charges are politically motivated and unsubstantiated," the letter said.
The letter, originally endorsed by 24 people, was later published online where it drew hundreds of signatures from Russian celebrities, politicians, human rights activists and political commentators.
To emphasize its point, the letter said Linderman had been subjected to a "constant violation of his rights" while in Russia and pointed to a number of specific incidents where he was harassed by FSB agents. It also highlighted specific aspects of the attempted assassination case.
"Some of the publicly known details used to charge Linderman are astonishing. For instance, the fact that during a search of his apartment, a TNT block with a detonator was supposedly found in an armchair that his 10-year-old daughter had a habit of jumping on," the letter said.
In the final paragraph of the document, signatories called on the Latvian justice system to be impartial and balanced in its handling of the case.
"We keep hope and ask that the fortune and case of Vladimir Ilyich Linderman be decided conscientiously, impartially and in a balanced way," it said.
In November 2002, three members of Pobeda (Victory) 's a thinly veiled political cover for the Latvian branch of the National Bolsheviks party 's were arrested on intelligence reports that there was a plot to assassinate Vike-Freiberga.
The three were found with large amounts of explosives and ammunition. There was also reportedly a letter calling for the death of Vike-Freiberga.
A Latvian court disbanded Pobeda in 2003, accusing the organization of being "openly and categorically opposed to Latvian government activities on domestic and foreign policy issues."
Latvia has been requesting his extradition since October 2003. Russia refused to fulfill the request, ostensibly based of fears of political persecution. This drew a harsh response from the Latvian Foreign Ministry, which expressed concern that the refusal was "dictated by short-term political considerations rather than by the principles of rule of law."
But since last year there has been a thaw in Latvian-Russian relations, underscored by the exchange of border treaty agreements in December.
Linderman effectively ran the Russian National Bolshevik party in Moscow after the Russian government arrested Eduard Limonov, the former leader of the party, in 2003.