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OSCE Rights Office Concerned Over Jailed Russian University Student's Case

Azat Miftakhov attends a court hearing in Moscow on January 18.
Azat Miftakhov attends a court hearing in Moscow on January 18.

A pan-European human rights watchdog has expressed concern after a Russian court handed a long prison sentence for hooliganism to a university mathematics student who says he was tortured while in custody.

"The allegations we are hearing with regard to this case are certainly of concern, and we will continue to follow its development closely," a spokeswoman at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) told RFE/RL on January 20, two days after 25-year-old Azat Miftakhov was sentenced to six years in prison.

"ODIHR is continually following the human rights situation in all 57 countries of the OSCE region, and frequently raises issues with individual states," Katya Andrusz said.

The press service of the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights organization, on Janaruy 19 said the organization was following the case "closely."

A court in the Russian capital on January 18 found Miftakhov, a postgraduate student at Moscow State University, guilty of being involved 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.

A prominent Russian human rights organization, Memorial, has declared Miftakhov a political prisoner.

The student 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 the 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.

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

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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