Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov gestures during a court hearing in Moscow February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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A Moscow court on Tuesday opened the trial of radical opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov on charges of using the funding of a Georgian politician to try to destabilize President Vladimir Putin's rule.The charges against Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev were filed in 2012 after NTV television -- owned by state energy giant Gazprom -- aired a propaganda film that billed itself as an expose of the crimes committed against Russia by leaders of that winter's protests.One of the grainy clips allegedly showed Udaltsov meeting with a Georgian lawmaker turned tycoon named Givi Targamadze and discussing ways to subvert the Russian leadership.Targamadze is an ally of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili -- a sworn foe of Putin who waged a brief 2008 war with Russia and is despised by Moscow's political establishment for seeking closer ties with the West.
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