Moscow: opposition supporters face long prison sentences for tweets and participation in protests
Russian courts began handing out unprecedented sentences to protesters in Moscow. They are being sentenced to years of imprisonment for such charges as participating in mass civil unrest, calling for extremist activity, and resisting police officers.
The Russian publication Mediazone says that cases are being decided in record time — a maximum of three days. In some cases, sentences were given after just one day.
The prosecution is demanding up to five years for all of the sentences.
So far, three sentences have been given.
The case of activist Ivan Podkopayev
According to the investigation, Ivan Podkopayev sprayed pepper spray in the direction of the security forces during a July 27 rally in central Moscow, which ended in mass detentions. Podkopaev pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced him to three years in a penal colony.
The case of entrepreneur Danilа Beglets
26-year-old entrepreneur Danila Beglets was detained during the Moscow protests on July 27.
He claims that he ended up there by accident and could not leave, as the area was blockaded.
According to the investigation, the Beglets grabbed a police officer by the wrist, who then detained the protestors.
The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in a colony.
The case of blogger Vladislav Sinitsa
Blogger Vladislav Sinitsa was given five years in a colony for writing a tweet about the children of police officers.
There was a discussion on twitter about finding the names of specific law enforcement officers who used violence to disperse protesters. Sinitsa wrote:
“[They’ll] look through their cute, happy family photos, study their geolocation, and then one day their child doesn’t come home from school, and instead they get a snuff video in the mail.”
Sinitsa was convicted of extremism with the threat of violence. While announcing the verdict, the judge ordered that the “instrument of the crime,” Sinitsa’s white iPhone, be seized in favor of the state.
The case of Kirill Zhukov
Kirill Zhukov was sentenced to three years in a colony for touching a police officer’s helmet during the demonstrations.
According to the investigation, this caused the officer physical pain.
Zhukov did not plead guilty and maintains that he had simply waved his hand and inadvertently touched the officer’s helmet.
What’s next in the Moscow cases
Overall, 15 people are being sentenced following the mass unrest in Moscow on July 27.
Some are being held in isolation, others are under house arrest. Hundreds of people are involved in interrogations as witnesses, but they could at any time become the accused.
Russian opposition leaders, led by Aleksei Navalny, called for indefinite protests until all persons accused in what is being called the “Moscow case” are released.
They also called on the public to vote only for candidates who openly condemn the repression and demand the release of political prisoners in the upcoming September 8 elections for the Moscow City Duma (city parliament).
It was the lack of independent candidates for elections to the Moscow City Duma that led to the unprecedented protests in the capital. They have been ongoing since July 14 and tens of thousands of people are participating.