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Moscow Court Reduces Sentence For Protester Who Changed Plea To Not Guilty

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Ivan Podkopayev in court in Moscow (file photo)

A Moscow court has reduced the sentence of a protester who was convicted of allegedly using pepper spray on a police officer and later changed his plea to not guilty.

Tver district court Judge Yelena Lavrova said on October 9 that she was cutting Ivan Podkopayev's sentence by one year to two years in prison. She did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, a Moscow court upheld a three-year sentence imposed last month against Kirill Zhukov, who was convicted on charges of using violence against police during the same Moscow rally in late July.

Investigators alleged that Zhukov made contact with the helmet of a security officer who was involved in a cordon during the unsanctioned protest.

Zhukov's supporters said the sentence was grossly unfair and that it was clear from footage of the incident that he had barely touched the officer's helmet.

Podkopayev and Zhukov are among dozens of protesters who were fined or given jail sentences for organizing and participating in a series of sanctioned and unsanctioned rallies in Moscow over the summer.

Protesters were angered by officials' actions to block independent and opposition candidates from running in the September 8 municipal elections.

Podkopayev, a 25-year-old technician, originally pleaded guilty to the charge against him, but he later withdrew that admission during his appeal and pleaded not guilty.

Podkopayev admitted to using the spray during a July 27 pro-democracy rally, but said he was defending himself from National Guard officers who were assaulting him.

Police and legal officials were sharply criticized for their heavy-handed tactics during and after the protests, which drew some of the biggest crowds since demonstrations against election manipulation in 2011 and 2012.

Thousands of people were detained, and several were given stiff prison terms in connection with the protests.

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