Public indignation over the sentencing of one “Moscow Case” defendant, Pavel Ustinov, led to his release and the public wants more protesters freed. The story is from The Moscow Times.
Today, the Moscow City Court released Pavel Ustinov from jail. The 23-year-old actor was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Sept. 16, on far-fetched police assault charges. His is one of a dozen unjustified prosecutions in the so-called “Moscow Case,” brought in retaliation for election-related protests this summer.
Ustinov’s appeal hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26, but his release from custody pending appeal could signal that the appeal will yield a suspended sentence. Ustinov’s release was requested by the very same prosecutors who just days earlier demanded a six-year prison term and seemed barely satisfied with the lesser sentence handed down by the judge. The authorities’ apparent change of heart was almost unprecedented and inspires hope for other victims of politically motivated prosecutions.
In mid-July, the disqualification of viable opposition candidates from the Sept. 8 Moscow legislative assembly elections sparked sustained, unauthorized, but peaceful gatherings in Russia’s capital. The authorities responded with an overwhelming show of force. Police used excessive force against protesters, dozens of whom were injured, and arrested record numbers of demonstrators and random bystanders — close to 1,400 on July 27 alone.
Apparently aiming to further discourage protests, the authorities also opened several major criminal investigations. Eighteen people were arrested on charges of “mass rioting” and/or assaulting the police. Video footage showed that some of the accused did not engage in any aggressive behavior and others threw empty plastic bottles and the like. By mid-September, five of them, including Ustinov, had been sentenced, for assault, to two to three-and-a-half years in prison, and one, Konstantin Kotov, received a draconian four-year prison sentence merely for repeated participation in unsanctioned public gatherings
See the full article at The Moscow Times.