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Russia Activists Protest Jailing Of Demonstrator

ST. PETERSBURG -- Members of the Russian opposition parties Yabloko, Solidarity, and the United Civic Front (OGF) have staged a protest in St. Petersburg over the jailing of a demonstrator, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The activists claim that Sergei Mokhnatkin was unjustly arrested in December. Mokhnatkin was walking past an opposition protest in Moscow when he struck a policeman who, he said, was assaulting an elderly woman.

Mokhnatkin was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in a labor camp for the incident.

The protest on July 8 was scheduled to coincide with a meeting by the St. Petersburg government. But the meeting was moved to July 12 so as not to conflict with Russia’s official "Day of Family, Love, and Loyalty."

Activists say they will again protest outside the St. Petersburg government building on July 12.

Olga Kurnosova, the acting director of the OGF, told RFE/RL that "this is a humanitarian act in support of a man who was unjustly charged and tried. We plan to hand out flyers so that everyone will know who Sergei Mokhnatkin is."

This is not the first protest in support of Mokhnatkin.

In mid-June, the youth movement Oborona -- which is associated with the opposition party Other Russia -- staged a protest and held signs reading "Today Mokhnatkin, tomorrow you!"