A Russian appeals court has upheld the conviction of two activists who had been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for organizing protests in 2017 – in what Amnesty International called a “farcical” decision.
The decision by the Moscow court to uphold the “manifestly unjust” conviction of Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov is “an indictment of Russia’’ justice system,” the director of Amnesty International Russia, Natalia Zviagina, said in a statement on December 10.
On October 4, Sidorov and Mordasov were convicted in first instance for the “attempted organization of mass disturbances” and were sentenced to 6 1/2 years and 6 years and 7 months, respectively, in a penal colony over protests in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
Sidorov and Mordasov were 18 and 21 years old when they were detained in November 2017.
Amnesty International, which considers both to be prisoners of conscience, said they were prosecuted for trying to stage a peaceful protest in support of residents who had lost their houses in mass fires in Rostov-on-Don in August 2017.
Sidorov and Mordasov has been “punished for exercising their human rights, yet the authorities have treated them as dangerous criminals,” Zviagina said, adding that “many others have been subject to the same fate in recent months, in Moscow and across Russia.”
The sentences came after a summer of protests in Moscow to demand free and fair municipal elections. Dozens of people have been fined or given jail sentences over the rallies.