Moscow court fines journalist 300,000 rubles for attending protest
Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court has fined journalist Ilya Azar 300,000 rubles ($4,700) for participating in a demonstration on August 31. In court, Azar rejected allegations that it was an illegal assembly, and his lawyer, Tatyana Molokanova, argued that prosecutors presented no evidence that any disorderly conduct occurred at the rally. “In photographs, you can see Mr. Azar eating ice cream and not chanting any slogans,” Molokanova told the court.
Police arrested Azar two days after the demonstration, on the evening of September 2. He says he was apprehended when he stepped outside his home for a cigarette, after putting his toddler to bed. Three police officers then appeared and forced him into a squad car, abandoning the child. Investigators later determined that the arresting officers did nothing wrong when they left Azar’s daughter alone at home.
Azar was charged with repeated violations of public-assembly rules, based on a photograph he posted on Facebook showing him at the August 31 protest against political repression. Organizers say upwards of 4,000 people marched in the rally, though police put the attendance at just 750 activists.