Picketers gather outside Putin's office building in Moscow to support actor arrested at protest and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison
In what’s become the only legal option for citizens who wish to protest without enduring the cumbersome, time-consuming process of obtaining a city permit, Muscovites lined up for a “solitary picket” outside the presidential administration building on September 18 to take turns standing in silence, holding banners in support of Pavel Ustinov, the actor who was recently sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for allegedly injuring a National Guardsman at a protest on August 3.
Several well-known actors and directors have joined the picket, which adopts the same strategy used this summer by supporters of Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov, when he was arrested on false charges of drug possession.
A Moscow court convicted Ustinov of shouting slogans and resisting arrest at a demonstration on August 3, but video footage shows that he wasn’t part of the protest and merely stumbled, when a group of National Guard troops tackled him without warning.
Many Russian actors, musicians, television celebrities, and even United Russia General Council head Andrey Turchak have spoken out in support of Ustinov. The chief editors and publishers of three major independent news outlets — Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta, and Dozhd — have asked Moscow’s court system to reconsider Ustinov’s sentence, and a Change.org petition demanding the same has attracted more than 95,000 signatures, at the time of this writing.