Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia's 'Inflatable Duck' Activist Jailed After Nemtsov Rally


Artyom Goncharenko was ruled to be a repeat offender because he was detained on January 28 after putting an oversized inflatable duck in an apartment window at a demonstration calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election.

A Russian activist has been sentenced in St. Petersburg to 25 days in jail after being detained on his way to attend a February 25 rally in memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Artyom Goncharenko, a member of the Vesna human rights group, was kept by police overnight and handed the jail term by a district court on February 26.

The St. Petersburg court ruled that Goncharenko had violated Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code, which is the "repeated violation of the established procedure" for holding meetings or rallies.

Anastasia Burakova, a lawyer for the Open Russia Foundation, said the judge rejected all of the motions put forward by Goncharenko's defense and gave it 15 minutes to review the materials in the case.

Goncharenko was ruled to be a repeat offender because he was detained on January 28 after putting an oversized inflatable duck in an apartment window at a demonstration calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election.

Those nationwide rallies had been called by anticorruption crusader Aleksei Navalny after he was barred by Russia's Central Election Commission from running in the presidential election.

The rubber duck became a symbol of government corruption in Russia after Navalny published a report that alleged Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had built a duck house on one of his estates.

Fellow activist Yaroslav Putrov was also detained with Goncharenko while walking to the Nemtsov rally. Putrov was, however, released the same day without charges.

Goncharenko's detention came as the United States in a statement commemorating the anniversary of Nemtsov's death on February 26 called on Russia to "uphold its obligations to promote and protect universal human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said Russia should "ensure that all involved in [Nemtsov's killing], including those who organized or ordered it, are brought to justice."

In July, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of the murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But relatives and associates charge that his assassination was ordered at a higher level. They say justice will not be served until the person or people who ordered the killing are identified and prosecuted.

XS
SM
MD
LG