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Russian Rights Activist Convicted Of Spreading 'False Information' About Coronavirus

Grigory Vinter says he will appeal the court's ruling. (file photo)
Grigory Vinter says he will appeal the court's ruling. (file photo)

CHEREPOVETS, Russia -- A noted human rights activist in the northwestern Russian city of Cherepovets has been sentenced to two years of "limited freedom" under parole-like conditions on a charge of distributing false information about the coronavirus.

The leader of the For Human Rights movement's branch in the Vologda region, Grigory Vinter, said on March 31 that the sentence forbids him from changing his permanent address and orders him to report to a parole officer twice a month.

Vinter was found guilty of posting "false" information on the VKontakte social network about the purported transfer of a group of convicts with coronavirus-like symptoms from Russia's second city, St. Petersburg, to the Vologda region in 2020.

He was also found guilty of insulting police during a search of his apartment in May.

Vinter says he will appeal the court's ruling.

Vinter has said that he was tortured with an electric shock device while in a detention center in Cherepovets in December, a charge that the Federal Penitentiary Service has denied.

Pressure on human rights activists in Russia has increased in recent months amid a crackdown on supporters of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, whose near-fatal poisoning eventually landed him in Germany for urgent care after he fell ill during a Russian domestic flight in August.

The chief of the Siberia Without Torture group's branch in the Republic of Buryatia, Yevgeny Khasoyev, told RFE/RL on March 31 that he had to flee Russia after two criminal cases on charges of assaulting a court bailiff and libel were launched against him and a court ordered him to be sent to a psychiatric clinic for examination.

Khasoyev, who is currently in an unspecified foreign country, provided legal assistance to activists detained in Buryatia's capital, Ulan-Ude, during unsanctioned rallies demanding Navalny’s release in January.

With reporting by SOTA