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More North Ossetians Handed Prison Terms Over 2020 COVID Protests

Police in Vladikavkaz detained dozens of protesters in April 2020 when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of North Ossetia's capital to demand the resignation of the region's leader.

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A court in Russia's southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed prison terms to three individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia who took part in a massive rally in April 2020 against anti-coronavirus restrictions.

The Kirov district court said on February 22 that it found three men, whose identities were not disclosed, guilty of taking part in mass disorders and sentenced them to four years in prison each.

More sentences are expected to be announced against other people involved in the protests against measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus in North Ossetia.

On April 20, 2020, police in North Ossetia detained dozens of protesters when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, demanding the resignation of regional leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

The rally was violently dispersed by police.

The protest was initiated online via social networks by North Ossetian opera singer Vadim Cheldiyev, who permanently resides in St. Petersburg.

Cheldiyev was detained in St. Petersburg after the rally in Vladikavkaz and brought to North Ossetia, where he was charged with spreading fake news about the coronavirus and assaulting police, which he vehemently denies.

Last year, 14 other participants in the 2020 protest were sentenced to prison terms between 3 1/2 and six years on charges of taking part in mass disorders.