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Amnesty International Declares Three Russian Activists 'Prisoners Of Conscience'

Amnesty International has recognized three Russian activists arrested over protests in the city of Rostov-on-Don in 2017 as prisoners of conscience.

In a November 12 statement, Amnesty said that by arresting Yan Sidorov, 18, Vladislav Mordasov, 21, and Vyacheslav Shamshin, 18, Russian authorities violated their right to express their thoughts through peaceful public gatherings.

It said their rights to personal safety, freedom, and a fair trial were also violated.

The three were arrested in November 2017 for allegedly planning to organize or take part in riots in the southern city.

Investigators say they called for public disturbances and planned attacks on police.

If found guilty, Sidorov and Mordasov could be sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Shamshin could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

All three contend they were holding peaceful demonstrations that had nothing to do with a rally scheduled for November 5, 2017, by Artpodgotovka (Artillery Bombardment), a group that has been labeled extremist and banned in Russia.

Hundreds of members of Artpodgotovka were detained that day at rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities ahead of the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

The Moscow-based human rights group Memorial recognized Mordasov, Sidorov, and Shamshin as political prisoners earlier this year.

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