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Artist Caught Up In Pro-Navalny Rally Convicted, Sentenced In St. Petersburg

Thousands rallied across Russia in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in January.
Thousands rallied across Russia in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in January.

A court in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has sentenced an aritst who was attending a rally in January for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to three years in a colony-settlement.

The Oktyabr district court sentenced Ilya Pershin on September 6 after finding him guilty of assaulting a police officer during the dispersal of demonstrators at the protest on January 31.

A colony-settlement is a penitentiary in which convicts live in a penal colony close to a facility where they work.

Pershin and his supporters have rejected the charge. They say that the police officer in question fell by himself and hurt his knee while Pershin was running from him. Justice officials have handed several people prison terms or suspended sentences this year for allegedly attacking police during the nationwide demonstrations.

An artist who came to St. Petersburg from the Far Eastern city of Magadan, Pershin said at the trial that he did not protest during the rally, but was "studying people's movements" as an artist at the site.

Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack by what several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent in Siberia.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

In February, a Moscow court ruled that while recovering in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered as being politically motivated. Navalny's 3 1/2 year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time already served.

More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after the January rallies. Many of the detained men and women were either fined or handed jail terms of several days. At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.

With reporting by Mediazona and Meduza
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