Russian actor Pavel Ustinov freed pending appeal | News | DW | 20.09.2019
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Russian actor Pavel Ustinov freed pending appeal

A Moscow court has released 24-year-old actor Pavel Ustinov from jail following public outcry. He had been arrested near an opposition rally and jailed for three and a half years for allegedly injuring a police officer.

Russian actor Pavel Ustinov was expected to leave jail on Friday after a Moscow court ordered his release. The move follows a massive campaign in support of the novice artist, who had been jailed for resisting arrest and allegedly dislocating a police officer's shoulder at the scene of an anti-government protest.

"This is a victory of all of us," his mother, Tatyana Ustinova, told reporters. "I think we will win."

Ustinov is not allowed to leave the Russian capital and is due to go back before the court for his appeal hearing on Thursday.

Outcry from ruling party members

A court had previously sentenced Ustinov for three and a half years in a penal colony over the August incident. The actor claims he never attended the protest and only approached the site of the Moscow rally because he was meeting a friend there. A video published by Russia's Novaya Gazeta and Dozhd broadcaster show a group of police officers approaching Ustinov while he is looking down at his phone. Apparently without provocation, the officers in heavy riot gear approach him, fling him to the ground and take him away.

However, prosecutors claim Ustinov had grabbed and injured one of the officers while resisting arrest. The presiding judge refused to review the video.

Ustinov denies resisting arrest.

Activists slammed Ustinov's arrest and launched a petition for his release. Additionally, celebrities, Orthodox priests and even lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party joined the outcry.

Read more: Russian media mark victory over police with Ivan Golunov's release

Offense 'has not gone away'

In the Friday ruling, the Moscow court said that Ustinov was not likely to flee or interfere with the court proceedings. The authorities also took into consideration his military service and a personal recommendation from award-winning veteran actor Konstantin Raikin.

Speaking in court via a video-link on Friday, Ustinov said he had "no intention to hide or threaten anyone."

Earlier this week, Russia's General Prosecutors Office said the current sentence was too harsh and asked for it to be revised to a non-custodial sentence.

However, it stood by Ustinov's conviction.

"Of course, the seriousness of the offense has not gone away," prosecutor Anastasya Zvereva said on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the case on Friday, telling reporters there was "no response from the Kremlin."

dj/sms (Interfax, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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