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EU Criticizes Russia Over Bolotnaya Sentences

Defendants Aleksandr Margolin (right) and Ilya Guschin (center) stand in a cage during a hearing in the Bolotnaya case in a courtroom in Moscow in May.

The European Union has criticized the recent convictions and sentencing of six activists involved in the antigovernment Bolotnaya protests in Moscow in May 2012.

A Moscow judge sentenced the activists in July and August to up to 4 1/2 years in prison on charges of rioting.

The protests, which turned violent, occurred on the eve of the May 2012 inauguration of President Vladimir Putin.

A statement from the office of EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said, "As we have repeatedly pointed out, such sentences not only seem disproportionate, in the light of the nature of the events and the offenses these activists are accused of, but also curtail the exercise of freedom of expression and of assembly in Russia."

The EU called on Russia to honor its international rights obligations, "in particular the right to a fair trial and the respect of freedoms of expression, assembly and association."

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