Russian activist Konstantin Kotov has been sentenced to 4 years after a court convicted him of “multiple breaches” of Russian protest law, making him the second person ever to be prosecuted under the controversial legislation.
The clause in the Russian Criminal Code punishing repeat violations of public demonstration rules became known as Ildar “Dadin’s article” after the first activist who was sentenced under it in 2015. The activist was released in 2017 when Russia’s Supreme Court decided that charges against him should be dropped. Judges ruled at the time that while the law was legal under the Russian constitution, it should only be used against protesters who “posed a threat” to society.
The Tverskoy District Court sentenced Kotov to 4 years in a prison colony after finding him guilty of taking part in multiple unsanctioned protests in 180 days, the Mediazona news website reported.
His trial reportedly took two days. Prosecutors had asked for Kotov, 34, to be imprisoned for 4.5 years.
Kotov denied his guilt in his closing arguments Wednesday.
“It’s not me who’s being judged in this process, but the people’s right to their opinions, to their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” Kotov said.
Footage of Kotov’s detention Aug. 10 reportedly shows police running up to and apprehending Kotov, who was not chanting any slogans as he exited a central Moscow metro station.
Prosecutors had called police action at this summer’s Moscow election protests, where some officers have been filmed violently detaining demonstrators, professional.
The verdict comes on the eve of the Sept. 8 Moscow City Duma election, which has sparked the largest wave of protests seen in Russia since 2011-2013 after opposition candidates were barred from the ballot.
Fourteen other activists were charged with taking part in “mass unrest,” four of whom so far have been sentenced to up to 3 years in jail on separate charges.