A court in central Russia is set to consider on October 22 an application for parole of Yan Sidorov, who was sentenced to prison last year for organizing a peaceful protest in 2017.
Ahead of the hearing in the Ulyanovsk region, Amnesty International called on the authorities to “end a gross injustice by immediately and unconditionally releasing” Sidorov, whom it considers a prisoner of conscience.
At the hearing, penitentiary officials are expected to present evidence of "regime violations" he allegedly committed while in a penal colony, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow office director, said in a statement.
“One of these so-called violations consisted of Yan not tucking his blanket under his mattress properly. The record of this ‘violation’ only goes to show how desperate Russian authorities are to justify the continued imprisonment of a brave human rights defender,” Zviagina added.
A year ago, Sidorov and his friend Vladislav Mordasov were convicted of the “attempted organization of mass disturbances” and were sentenced to more than six years each in a penal colony -- sentences that were subsequently reduced to four years.
Sidorov and Mordasov were 18 and 21 years old when they were detained in November 2017.
Amnesty International said they were prosecuted for trying to hold a peaceful protest in support of dozens of people in Rostov-on-Don who lost their homes in mass fires earlier that year.
Sidorov “should have never been imprisoned in the first place, and nothing will make up for the years he has spent behind bars. But tomorrow there is a chance to begin to rectify this injustice by ordering his release,” Zviagina said.
The London-based human rights watchdog also called for the release of Mordasov, his fellow prisoner of conscience.