25. Feb. 2014


Russia: Sentences for Bolotnaya Square demonstrators are disproportionate

Strasbourg, 25.02.2014 – The co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Russia by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC) and Dora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD), have expressed their deep concern at prison sentences announced today by the Moscow Court for demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events of 6 May 2012.

About 650 demonstrators were detained following protests in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square a day before Mr Putin was due to be sworn in as President. Criminal proceedings were subsequently initiated against 28 persons. Initially there were 12 defendants in the case but four of them were recently released under the amnesty which was also applied to Greenpeace activists and the members of the punk band Pussy Riot.

Seven activists from the Bolotnaya Square events received prison terms of between 2.5 and 4 years. They have been in custody since the events. An eighth activist, the only woman on trial, received a suspended sentence. She had been held under house arrest.

«These sentences are very high and disproportionate,» said the co-rapporteurs. «The procedural shortcomings, as well as long pre-trial detention, may raise justified suspicions about politically motivated justice.» «Freedom of assembly is a necessary condition for a democracy and today’s sentences send a very wrong signal,» they concluded, expressing the hope that they would be reviewed on appeal.

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