A mathematician at the center of a high-profile trial in Russia gave a final statement to a Moscow court on December 25 as police detained journalists and activists gathered outside.
Azat Miftakhov, a self-declared anarchist who says he was tortured in custody, thanked those who have supported him through the ordeal as he faces up to six years in prison on hooliganism charges when a verdict is announced on January 11.
Outside the court, police detained almost 20 people who had come out to support the 25-year-old postgraduate mathematics student at Moscow State University.
Among those detained were journalists, including a correspondent from RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service who had media accreditation to cover the trial.
After being released from detention, the RFE/RL journalist was charged with "participating in a gathering not authorized by authorities."
Miftakhov’s case has garnered interest in Russia and abroad since he was arrested in February 2019 and accused of helping to make an improvised bomb found in the city of Balashikha near Moscow.
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. Others who were detained along with Miftakhov, but later released, have also claimed to have been beaten by the police.
Miftakhov was released shortly after the initial charge failed to hold, but he was rearrested immediately and charged with involvement in an arson attack on the ruling United Russia party's office in Moscow in January 2018.
A prominent Russian human rights organization, Memorial, has declared Miftakhov a political prisoner.
A series of demonstrations demanding Miftakhov's immediate release have been held in Moscow and other cities in Russia since his arrest.
To protest the treatment of Miftakhov and the overall human rights situation in Russia, a group of mathematicians this week called for a boycott of the International Congress of Mathematicians to be hosted in 2022 in Saint Petersburg.