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Activists in Moscow are setting up cardboard cutouts of jailed journalist Ilya Azar. One has been arrested already.
Journalist and municipal deputy Ilya Azar was sentenced to 15 days administrative arrest on May 28, for holding a peaceful, single-person demonstration. His arrest sparked solidarity protests outside of the police headquarters in Moscow, and near the well-known Gostiny Dvor shopping center in central St. Petersburg.
Azar was arrested on May 26, while protesting in support of arrested activist Viktor Nemytov and jailed community leader Vladimir Vorontsov, the administrator of an online community known as “Police Ombudsman,” which publishes reports of abuse within the Russian Interior Ministry.
Activist Mikhail Pletnev, the creator of the Telegram channel “#метрöпикет” (in English, #Metropicket), decided that Azar himself should be included in the solidarity protests in his name. So he came up with an idea — a life-size Ilya Azar cardboard cutout.
On May 31, Pletnev and the cardboard Azar took to the streets in Moscow together. Pletnev went into the metro, where he set up the Azar cutout and took a photo. Law enforcement arrested him. They told the activist that “somewhere on the internet text will be photoshopped” onto the blank sign in the Azar cutout’s hands, and that he could be held responsible. The police later released Pletnev without writing up a protocol.
On June 1, #Metropicket activists joined Pletnev’s movement, printing their own Azar cardboard cutouts and taking them out into the streets. As a result, the Azar cutouts were photographed protesting near the Tverskoy District Court building (where he was sentenced to 15 days in jail) and outside of the Tverskoy District police department. Other Azar cutouts made appearances in Moscow’s Khamovniki District, as well as at the famous Ostankino Television Tower and on the subway.
Law enforcement even arrested an Ilya Azar cardboard cutout outside of the Moscow City Court building, the #Metropicket Telegram channel reports. Municipal deputy Evgeny Stupin and activist Konstantin Fokin were also arrested during solidarity protests on June 1.
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