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Activists and former political prisoners release video defending suspects in controversial Russian extremism case

Source: TV Rain

A group of activists and former political prisoners from Russia are calling on people to attend the announcement of the verdicts in the “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremism case at Moscow’s Lublinsky Court on August 6.

In 2018, ten activists from the so-called “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) movement were accused of organizing an illegal extremist group. Investigators believe they were plotting to “overthrow Russia’s constitutional order,” using leaflets and Telegram chat messages. The suspects’ parents accuse the police of framing their children for crimes they didn’t commit, and sources have told reporters that an undercover police officer was embedded inside the organization. The New Greatness case trial began in June 2019.

The call in support of the defendants took the form of a video message published by the independent television channel TV Rain (Dozhd). 

“This [the “New Greatness” case] is an absolutely obvious set-up, and for all of us it says that a case can be made against any one of us under any terrible article,” LGBTQ activists and artist Yulia Tsvetkova said in the video (she was fined approximately $1,437 July 2020 for violating Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda law”). 

“It’s a political case built on confessions beaten out under torture and on the testimonies of FSB provocateurs,” maintained Pussy Riot and Mediazona founder Maria Alyokhina. 

“In a normal country, those police officers and investigators who concocted this [would] have to be on trial,” activist Olga Shalina from the “Other Russia” movement said. 

The organizers of the “Mothers’ March” — an action in support of the defendants in the New Greatness case — also called for people to attend the sentencing, in an appeal published on Facebook by journalist Sergey Parkhomenko. 

“The truth is obvious to everyone, including, it seems, the judge: ‘New Greatness’ is not an organization, it’s not extremist, the defendants were not, were never, involved in those things that are shamelessly attributed to them. However, we don’t know what sentence the court will give them. As we understand, there aren’t any acquittals in Russia anymore. But this is precisely a case where there must be an acquittal,” the appeal says.

On July 14, the prosecution requested a variety of sentences for the defendants in the “New Greatness” case, ranging from four years probation to seven and a half years in prison on charges of organizing an illegal extremist group. A total of ten people are facing charges in the case. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 6. 

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