Russian court hands prison sentences to seven anti-Putin protesters | News | DW | 24.02.2014
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Russian court hands prison sentences to seven anti-Putin protesters

A Moscow court has sentenced seven people to up to four years in prison for their part in a mass protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012. An eighth avoided a jail sentence.

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Penal colony for Russian opposition protestors

A Russian court sentenced seven protesters on Monday ranging from two and a half to four years in prison after convicting them last week of rioting and attacking police during an anti-Putin rally in Moscow on May 6, 2012.

An eighth defendant was given a suspended sentence over her participation in the protest, which means she will avoid jail time.

The protest came one day before President Putin was sworn in for his third term in office. The ensuing trial, dubbed the Bolotnaya case, has widely been seen as a symbol of the Kremlin's crackdown on the opposition and dissent.

The trial had previously included 12 people but four were released in December after qualifying for a government-backed general amnesty.

Mass arrests

Riot police detained more than a hundred protesters gathered outside the court. Many shouted, "Shame" and called for a rally to be held near the Kremlin later on Monday.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those detained. He wrote on Twitter that police were "detaining people without any reason." Navalny was handed a suspended sentence after a trial last year which he says was politically motivated in retaliation for challenging Putin.

Two members of the Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina - showed up on Monday to lend their support to the defendants. The pair were released from prison in December.

hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP)

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