MOSCOW -- The Moscow City Court has postponed a hearing into the appeal of actor Pavel Ustinov, who was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for violence against law enforcement during a protest rally in August he insists he did not take part in.
The court on September 26 delayed the hearing until September 30 after prosecutors said that Ustinov's sentence was "too severe" and "the convict's correction is possible without his isolation from society." The court gave no explanation for the delay.
"I'm not guilty and I have nothing to apologize for," Ustinov told the court during the opening of the hearing on September 26.
The 23-year-old, who once worked as a National Guard officer, was sentenced on September 16 after a court found him guilty of verbally insulting police and physically assaulting a National Guard officer during a rally in Moscow on August 3.
Ustinov was among more than 1,400 people detained in Moscow on July 27 during an unsanctioned rally to protest the refusal by election officials to register independent and opposition candidates for September 8 elections to the Moscow city council.
While most were quickly released, some have faced serious charges in a harsh crackdown. Six people including Ustinov were given jail terms of between 2 and 4 years.
Ustinov pleaded not guilty, saying he was standing nearby and was not participating in the rally at which activists challenged the refusal by officials to register opposition and independent candidates for Moscow city-council elections that took place on September 8.
Video of Ustinov's arrest appears to back up his claims, and his imprisonment and harsh sentence have sparked an outcry among the entertainment community, as well as from teachers, priests, and even some members of the Moscow city council.
On September 20, Ustinov was released from custody by a court and ordered not to leave Moscow before the appeal of his case is ruled upon.