Cambridgeshire

Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky 'too ill' for Cambridge court hearing

Vladimir Bukovsky Image copyright PA
Image caption Vladimir Bukovsky is charged with the making and possession of indecent images of children

A Russian dissident accused of making and possessing indecent images of children has failed to appear in court, because he says he is ill in hospital.

Vladimir Bukovsky, 72, was due to appear at Cambridge Magistrates' Court earlier but sent a letter saying he was being treated for a life-threatening condition in Germany.

Jacqui Baldwin, his solicitor, said he left the country after he was charged.

Magistrates adjourned the case until 22 May.

Russian-born Mr Bukovsky is an author and activist who became well-known internationally as a vocal critic of the Soviet regime.

'Extremely unwell'

He spent 12 years in Soviet prisons, forced-labour camps and psychiatric hospitals, which were used by the authorities to incarcerate political dissidents and submit them to compulsory treatment to "cure" their beliefs.

He moved to Britain in the late 1970s and has lived in Cambridge ever since.

The charges include five counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, five counts of possessing indecent photographs of children and one count of possessing a prohibited image.

Ms Baldwin said her client had been treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital but left the country around 29 April.

She said he was "extremely unwell" and had suffered renal failure as recently as Friday.

"This is a life-threatening condition which is likely to result in prolonged hospitalisation," she told the court.

"He has co-operated with the police throughout their inquiries."

The court was filled with journalists from Russian broadcasters, who described Bukovsky as a "household name" in Russia.

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