Updated: Investigators redact charges against Moscow protester
Update: After this story was published, the Investigative Committee revised its press release to state that Sergey Fomin is in fact only charged with participating in, not organizing, “riots” on July 27. If convicted, he faces between three and eight years in prison.
Hours after activist Sergey Fomin turned himself over to police, Moscow investigators raised the charges against him from “participating in mass rioting” to “organizing mass rioting.” Officials now say he was responsible for “directing the actions of other participants.” Police previously issued a warrant for Fomin’s arrest in connection with his supposed participation in alleged riots on July 27 at an unpermitted opposition protest. He now faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, instead of eight years.
Fomin maintains his innocence, and says he was on vacation when the arrest warrant was issued and didn’t know the police were looking for him. According to the website Mediazona, Fomin tried to surrender himself to the authorities three times on August 8: First, the Moscow Investigative Committee head office wouldn’t open the front doors for him; he then called hotlines operated by the Investigative Committee and police, but they refused to send officers to take him in; and finally he went to a police station in Moscow’s Zamoskvorechye District, where he was questioned and arrested.
Thirty-six years old, Sergey Fomin volunteers for unregistered City Duma candidate Lyubov Sobol. He is one of the 11 people currently named as a suspect in the “Moscow case,” which the city’s authorities launched after supposed rioting on July 27.
In network television news reports, Fomin has been described as one of the activists who led the crowd of demonstrators, and later evaded arrest by walking away with his nephew in a baby carrier. As a result, the district attorney’s office has demanded removing the baby from the home of his parents on suspicion of child endangerment and neglect.