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Russian Antidrug Activist's Jailing To Be Appealed

Yegor Bychkov at Dzerzhinsky district court in Nizhny Tagil during sentencing on October 11

Yegor Bychkov at Dzerzhinsky district court in Nizhny Tagil during sentencing on October 11

NIZHNY TAGIL, Russia -- A Russian antidrug activist who uses strict measures on drug addicts has been sentenced to jail after being convicted of kidnapping and torture, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Yegor Bychkov, head of the City Without Drugs Foundation in the central city of Nizhny Tagil, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail on October 12 by a court in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Bychkov was found guilty of kidnapping a young drug addict. His lawyers say the drug user's parents asked Bychkov's foundation to forcibly take their son to a rehabilitation center for treatment.

Bychkov's supporters insist the case against him was fabricated.

The Nizhny Tagil city prosecutor vowed to challenge the sentence as too lenient.

Bychkov's lawyers and supporters meanwhile said they will appeal the verdict and demand Bychkov's release.

The City Without Drugs Foundation uses tough measures in its rehabilitation process, keeping patients locked while they go suffer withdrawal symptoms.

The drug abuser in question was handcuffed to a bed and rehabilitated in the foundation's center with the "consent of the patient's parents," Bychkov's lawyer said.

Yevgeny Roizman, the founder of a similar foundation in Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast, told RFE/RL that the case against Bychkov is connected to his success in reforming drug addicts and reducing the demand for drugs.

"Two hundred successful [rehabilitations] were conducted by the foundation in Nizhny Tagil [and] many local drug barons have been put behind bars," Roizman said. "It is clear that many local law enforcement officers who profited from the drug business do not like that situation. Everybody should understand that local people support Yegor Bychkov, who was sentenced for his civil position and his activities against drugs in the region."