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Russian Court Prolongs Opposition Activist's Pretrial Detention

SMOLENSK -- A court in the western Russian city of Smolensk has extended for a further three months the pretrial detention of an opposition activist held on drugs charges, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Taisiya Osipova, a member of the opposition movement Other Russia, was arrested one year ago and charged with drug possession after police said they found five packets containing drugs in her apartment. Osipova and her lawyers say the case is politically motivated and the drugs were planted.

Yevgeniya Chirikova, a leading environmentalist who was present at the Smolensk court session on September 26, told RFE/RL that "Osipova's case is scandalous, as it was clearly ordered [by a higher authority.]”

Chirikova said Osipova's lawyer requested her release on bail on the grounds that she has a 5-year-old daughter, whom she has not seen for a year.

"Taisiya is a diabetic and needs permanent medical assistance, which she does not have in her cell. What shocked me the most is the fact that Taisiya demanded from the judge an additional forensic test to determine whether her fingerprints were on those packages with drugs found in her apartment,” Chirikova told RFE/RL. "Taisiya insists that her fingerprints cannot be on them as she had nothing to do with them. But the judge refused to order the additional forensic test, saying that it is not necessary. That is ridiculous!”

Osipova's lawyers say the case was fabricated by the local authorities in order to exert pressure on her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, who is a member of the Other Russia's executive committee.

Fomchenkov told RFE/RL on September 26 that his wife's health is alarming.

"She is literally dying in jail now, as there are no trained medical personnel capable of treating her medical condition. She is not provided with the necessary medication," Fomchenkov said.

Journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova told RFE/RL that the court's decision to prolong Osipova's pretrial detention for another three months is tantamount to "premeditated murder."

Read more in Russian here

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