Journalist arrested for individual picket in support of jailed ‘Police Ombudsman’
UPDATE: On May 28, Moscow’s Tver District Court sentenced journalist Ilya Azar to 15 days administrative arrest, reports the Telegram channel “Apologiya Protesta.” The court found Azar guilty of repeatedly violating the law on public gatherings for holding a single-person picket on May 26. “Fifteen days arrest for a solo picket! And without being forcibly brought to court (I have never seen this),” Azar said on Telegram, in response to the court decision.
Journalist and municipal deputy Ilya Azar was arrested while holding an individual picket near the Interior Ministry building in Moscow, the human rights outlet OVD-Info reports.
Azar was protesting in support of Vladimir Vorontsov, the administrator of an online community known as “Police Ombudsman,” which publishes reports of abuse within the Russian Interior Ministry.
Azar came out in protest after another protester, Viktor Nemytov, was arrested for holding an individual picket in support of Vorontsov near the Interior Ministry building earlier in the day on May 26.
Well known for his journalism and activism, Ilya Azar is a special correspondent for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and a former special correspondent for Meduza.
Azar acted as a participant and organizer of the rallies that took place in Moscow during the summer of 2019, in particular, the demonstrations in support of arrested Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov. Azar also holds weekly “metro pickets” in support of political prisoners.
Azar was fined 300,000 rubles (approximately $4,245) for his participation in an unsanctioned protest in Moscow on August 31, 2019. The money to pay the fine was collected through donations.
Community leader Vladimir Vorontsov was jailed on extortion charges on May 8. During his arraignment, Vorontsov insisted that the charges against him are “revenge for his community's activities to uphold the labor rights of the police’s rank-and-file officers.”
Cover photo: «Avtozak Live»