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Last Convicted 'Bolotnaya' Protester Leaves Russia For U.S., Lawyer Says


Ivan Nepomnyashchikh speaks to reporters after being released from prison on August 24.

The last Russian activist imprisoned following clashes at a protest on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration in 2012 has left the country after serving his 30-month sentence.

The nongovernmental organization Public Verdict said in a Facebook post on September 7 that Ivan Nepomnyashchikh, 27, had landed in Prague and planned to travel on to the United States, where he intends to study.

Nepomnyashchikh left a prison in a region northeast of Moscow on August 24 directly from solitary confinement, where he had been placed several days prior to his release.

But a court ruled that for three years after his release Nepomnyashchikh needed permission to leave the Moscow Oblast, the region that surrounds but does not include the capital. That decision was under appeal by Public Verdict at the time Nepomnyashchikh left the country.

"We were in constant contact from the moment he arrived at the airport until takeoff," his lawyer, Irina Biryukova, told the Moscow-based rights watchdog OVD-Info.

Biryukova added that a court hearing on the conditions of her client's release -- including restrictions on his movement -- was scheduled for September 8. The earlier court decision also forbids Nepomnyashchikh from participating in street protests for three years.

Nepomnyashchikh is the last activist to be convicted so far in connection with a May 6, 2012, rally on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, where police detained more than 400 people after clashes that police and demonstrators blame on one another.

The rally was one of a series of large opposition protests sparked mainly by anger over electoral fraud and dismay at Putin's decision to return to the presidency after a four-year stint as prime minister.

More than 30 people were prosecuted in connection with the clashes and more than 20 were sentenced to prison or served time in pretrial custody.

Amnesty International has said that the police action at the rally "was not the quelling of a riot but the crushing of a protest" and that all those prosecuted are "victims of a politically motivated show trial."

One Bolotnaya protester, Maksim Panfilov, has been committed to a psychiatric hospital in the southern city of Astrakhan.

Dmitry Buchenkov, who is currently on trial in Moscow on charges of assaulting police during the Bolotnaya protest, says that he was not even there.

With reporting by ovdinfo.org
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