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Black Friday Four new verdicts in criminal cases against Moscow oppositionists: three suspended sentences, one incarceration, and some extra restrictions

Source: Meduza
Evgeny Feldman for Meduza

On December 6, Moscow courts rendered verdicts in cases against multiple suspects accused of various crimes related to the summer’s protests against local election officials’ decision to deny ballot access to several opposition candidates. Meduza summarizes the rulings and sentences below.

On December 6, Moscow courts convicted seven men of supposed crimes related to opposition protests in the capital this summer. Courts have already sentenced six other “Moscow Case” defendants to time in prison, and a seventh suspect was given probation.
Update: Judge Irina Akkuratova sentenced Egor Lesnykh, Maxim Martintsov, and Alexander Mylnikov to three years in prison, 2.5 years in prison, and two years’ probation, respectively, for attacking members of law enforcement at an opposition protest on July 27. Martintsov and Mylnikov allegedly knocked a National Guardsman to the ground, while Lesnykh supposedly kicked a police officer. The suspects all maintain their innocence.

Egor Zhukov

Egor Zhukov was sentenced to three years of probation for public incitements to extremism. The court also banned him from managing any kind of website for the next two years — a significant punishment for the 21-year-old Higher School of Economics student, who’s also a celebrity on YouTube, where he’s attracted a large following with videos promoting libertarianism, attacking feminism, and more. The felony case against him was based on four YouTube videos Zhukov posted about methods of peaceful protest. Prosecutors wanted him locked up for four years. Zhukov maintains his innocence.

The court’s press secretary, Marina Makushina, told the news agency Interfax that the sentence “implies a ban on the creation and administration of his own Internet page and things like it online.” She said Zhukov is not prohibited, however, from using the Internet or publishing content on websites created by third parties.

In a speech outside the courthouse, Egor Zhukov called the court “a repressive institution,” and thanked everyone who supported him. He also promised to study further with his attorneys what the prohibition on administering websites means for him, adding that he will not cease his public activities.

I’m happy to be free, but this is nevertheless a completely unfair thing. Second, I hope everyone understands that this has all turned into politics, and we cannot separate from politics our support for political prisoners and the unjustly convicted. The court has been turned into a repressive institution. We have to understand that this is all politics. Third, with all my heart, I just want to thank everyone who fought both publicly and privately for my release. I’m just happy to see you all here now [at the courthouse]. So much interest in my story. Thank you, everyone!

The lawyers and I will study [the injunction on administering online resources] in more detail. Unfortunately, I just don’t know what it means exactly. If they think I’m going to stop my public activities, well, c’mon.

Friends, I want to remind you that my verdict isn’t the last one today. I’m grateful that you’ve come here, but I think there are still people who need you more now. Because I’m already free, and they aren’t. So hightail it there and help those who need it more than I do. Thank you again!

After Zhukov’s sentencing, rapper Oxxxymiron made public remarks near the Kuntsevsky courthouse. He said Zhukov’s suspended sentence is seen as an acquittal, arguing that the judge decided on probation thanks to public pressure and attention. “It’s clear that every action is small, but it’s all we can do in this situation,” the rapper said, thanking those who supported Zhukov and the other “Moscow Case” suspects.

Pavel Novikov

Pavel Novikov was fined 120,000 rubles ($1,880) for attacking a police officer. The 32-year-old dentist confessed to throwing a plastic bottle at a police officer at a protest on July 27. The officer in question says he’s forgiven Novikov. When explaining why incarceration is unnecessary, the judge acknowledged several other mitigating circumstances, like the defendant’s clean record and good character references. Prosecutors asked the court to sentence Novikov to three years in prison.

Pavel Novikov is freed in court. December 6, 2019.
Mikhail Tereshchenko / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Nikita Chirtsov

Nikita Chirtsov was sentenced to one year in prison for attacking members of law enforcement. The court is also counting each day he spent in pretrial detention as one and a half days toward his sentence. Prosecutors say he deliberately shoved officer Yuri Mikhalenko at a protest on July 27 (the same one where Pavel Novikov tossed the bottle). Chirtsov denies the charges, saying that he merely stumbled into the police officer and threw his hands forward reflexively. Prosecutors wanted him locked up for three and a half years. Chirtsov’s lawyer, Alexander Borkov, called the ruling “nonsense” and said he would immediately seek his client’s early parole.

Nikita Chirtsov in court. December 6, 2019.
Gavriil Grigorov / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Vladimir Emelyanov

Vladimir Emelyanov was sentenced to two years of probation for attacking police officers on July 27. The 27-year-old merchandiser was convicted of grabbing a National Guardsman by the uniform and interfering in his official duties. Emelyanov says he only wanted to prevent “illegal actions by National Guard staff,” who he says were using violence against peaceful demonstrators. “So for my part, I don’t see any guilt in trying to save someone,” Emelyanov explained in court. Prosecutors wanted him sentenced to four years in prison. Police arrested Emelyanov on October 14, along with another three “Moscow Case” suspects: Egor Lesny, Maxim Martintsov, and Andrey Barshaem. These men are also charged with attacking police officers. They maintain their innocence, and their cases are ongoing.

As the judge read out the verdict against Emelyanov, hundreds of people gathered near the Meshchansky courthouse and chanted, “Release him! Release him!”

Report by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Kevin Rothrock