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Russian Math Student Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For 'Hooliganism'

Moscow State University postgraduate student Azat Miftakhov appears in court in Moscow on July 23.

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has handed down a six-year prison sentence for hooliganism to Azat Miftakhov, a postgraduate mathematics student at the Moscow State University who says he was tortured while in custody.

Moscow's Golovinsky district court on January 18 found the 25-year-old guilty of involvement in an arson attack on the ruling United Russia party's office in Moscow in 2018.

Miftakhov has denied the charges, which his lawyers say stem from his anarchist beliefs and support for political prisoners.

Police detained some of the dozens of people gathered in front of the court building to express support for Miftakhov, who was arrested in early 2019 and accused of helping make an improvised bomb found in the city of Balashikha near Moscow.

He was released several days after the initial charge failed to hold, but was rearrested immediately and charged with being involved in the attack on a United Russia office in January 2018.

The Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights group, has said that Miftakhov's body bore the signs of torture, which the student claimed were the result of investigators unsuccessfully attempting to force him to confess to the bomb-making charge.

A prominent Russian human rights organization, Memorial, has recognized Miftakhov as a political prisoner, while mathematician Anatoly Vershik told Novaya gazeta last week that 2,500 mathematicians from 15 countries had signed a letter urging the International Congress of Mathematicians to assist in Miftakhov's release, warning that many of them might not attend the congress gathering in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, scheduled for July 2022.

Others who were detained along with Miftakhov but later released have also claimed to have been beaten by the police.

With reporting by TASS and Meduza
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