Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin has been released from detention in Moscow after being held and fined for staging a demonstration that authorities said was conducted without their permission.
Yashin late on December 28 wrote on Twitter that he was “alive, healthy, and free,” amid media reports that he had been fined 30,000 rubles for organizing the “Free Elections Day" festival in Moscow's Lermontov Park on December 24, despite a City Court decision banning the gathering.
Earlier on December 28, Yashin, the head of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky municipal district, had written on Twitter that five police officers detained him near his home and took him to a police station.
The news site Meduza, among others, reported that Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court fined Yashin 30,000 rubles (about $521), finding him guilty of organizing a public event without giving notice for the December 24 event. Yashin retweeted stories saying he had been fined.
Yashin vowed to appeal the verdict.
Some 2,000 people attended the “Free Elections Day" event to demand that Russia's March 18 presidential election be a free, fair, and competitive contest.
Moscow city authorities and local police declared the event illegal and questioned Yashin's parents on December 25 about his whereabouts.
Supporters of anticorruption activist and opposition politician Aleksei Navalny also organized rallies in 20 Russian cities on December 24, including Moscow.
Navalny has been campaigning for the presidency since December 2016. But election officials in June declared he is ineligible due to a financial-crimes conviction that he contends was baseless and politically motivated.
Presidential campaigning officially started in Russia on December 18.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is running for a fourth term. His high approval ratings and control over the levers of power make his victory a foregone conclusion in Russia, where government critics say election campaigns and results are manipulated by authorities.