A Russian court has cut the four-year prison term of an opposition activist imprisoned for repeatedly taking part in unsanctioned rallies.
The Moscow City Court ruled on April 20 that Konstantin Kotov’s term must be lowered by 2 1/2 years.
Kotov reiterated at the hearing at the court that he does not consider his participation in the rallies as a crime.
“My duty as a human and a citizen is to defend innocent people. I do not shirk [that duty.] This is my third final statement in a courtroom. I am ready to repeat it again and again. As many times as necessary for my acquittal,” Kotov said.
His lawyer, Maria Eismont, demanded the case against Kotov be closed and the charge dropped.
Amnesty International Russia’s Director Natalia Zviagina called the court decision to uphold Kotov’s conviction “a profound injustice,” saying the activist has spent more than eight months behind bars “simply for taking part in peaceful protests.”
“The fact remains that he should never have been detained at all. Konstantin Kotov is a prisoner of conscience, he must be acquitted and freed,” Zviagina added.
The 35-year-old computer programmer 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 last 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 following the protests in what has been dubbed the Moscow Case.
His conviction and sentencing on September 5 sparked a public outcry in Russia because of its severity.
On January 25, amid protests against Kotov’s imprisonment, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Prosecutor-General’s Office to review the legality of the sentencing.
Two days later, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that case must be reviewed.