Fri, 15 Nov 2019

A series of one-person pickets have been held across the Russian capital in support of an opposition activist sentenced to 4 years in prison for repeatedly taking part in unauthorized rallies.

People stood with placards expressing support for Konstantin Kotov on October 13 in Moscow at sites where he was either arrested, held in jail, or sentenced by courts.

Russian law allows holding so-called single-picket protests without the need to ask for official permission.

The Tver district court ruled on September 5 that Kotov 'disregarded basic constitutional principles' by refusing to stop taking part in unsanctioned protests after being found guilty of violating legislation on public gatherings.

'I did not and do not admit guilt. I believe that taking part in peaceful demonstrations is not a crime,' the activist told the court.

The 34-year-old computer programmer was sentenced under a controversial law that criminalizes participation in more than one unsanctioned protest within a 180-day period.

Kotov was detained on August 10 for taking part in a rally to demand opposition and independent candidates be put on the ballot for the Moscow City Duma election that was held on September 8.

The barring of the would-be candidates sparked a wave of protests in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia this summer, some of which were violently suppressed by police as thousands were briefly detained, sparking international condemnation.

Kotov was one of several activists punished with prison sentences following the protests in what has been dubbed the Moscow Case.

A group of Russian Orthodox priests highlighted the case of Kotov in a September 18 open letter expressing concern over the authorities' crackdown on the protesters.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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