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Jailed Mathematician Marries Co-Defendant In Moscow Detention Center

Yelena Gorban shows reporters her wedding certificate on June 23.
Yelena Gorban shows reporters her wedding certificate on June 23.

MOSCOW -- A jailed postgraduate mathematics student at Moscow State University and his former co-defendant, who were found guilty of charges rights groups have called politically motivated, have married in a detention center.

The official marriage ceremony for Azat Miftakhov and Yelena Gorban was held in Moscow's Butyrka detention center on June 23.

In January, the 28-year-old mathematician was sentenced to six years in prison after a court in Moscow found him guilty of involvement in an arson attack on the ruling United Russia'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.

Miftakhov 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 an office of the United Russia political party 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.

Azat Miftakhov (file photo)
Azat Miftakhov (file photo)

Gorban was one of Miftakhov's co-defendants. She was also convicted in the case and handed a suspended sentence.

Gorban told RFE/RL after the wedding ceremony that her parents supported her decision to marry her jailed fiance.

Miftakhov's mother, Gulnur Khusainova, told RFE/RL that she too was happy the two could marry.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has recognized Miftakhov as a political prisoner, while some 2,500 mathematicians from 15 countries had signed a letter urging the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) to assist in Miftakhov's release.

Earlier in June, the American Mathematical Society urged Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, Lisa Peterson to include Miftakhov's case on the agenda of the summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin that was held on June 16 in Geneva.