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Jailed Russian Antidrugs Activist Released

Yegor Bychkov, head of the City Without Drugs Foundation, has been released from jail.
SVERDLOVSK, Russia -- Russian antidrug activist Yegor Bychkov has been released from jail in the central Sverdlovsk region, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

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

He 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.

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

The patient 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.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Court ruled on November 3 that the verdict against Bychkov should be replaced by a suspended sentence of 2 1/2 years. Bychkov was released immediately.

Yevgeny Roizman, the founder of a similar foundation in Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast, told RFE/RL that the Sverdlovsk regional court's ruling can be viewed as an exoneration of Bychkov.

Roizman said public opinion -- there was an outpouring of support for Bychkov after his conviction -- had been heard by the authorities.

An expert at the Central Federal Region's Antinarcotics Committee, Vladimir Ivanov, told RFE/RL that Bychkov's case would make Russia's leadership focus on the rehabilitation of drug addicts.