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Russian Protester Given Three-Year Prison Term


Kirill Zhukov during a court hearing in Moscow on September 4.
Kirill Zhukov during a court hearing in Moscow on September 4.

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court on September 4 handed down a three-year prison sentence to a protester over charges of using violence against police during a Moscow rally in late July.

Kirill Zhukov, who investigators say made contact with the helmet of a security officer who was involved in a cordon during the unsanctioned July 27 protest, is the latest in the ongoing prosecutions in connection with a wave of demonstrations that have brought tens of thousands of Russians into the streets.

Zhukov's supporters said the sentence was grossly unfair and that it was clear from footage of the incident that he had barely touched the officer's helmet.

Investigators said the incident caused the officer "physical pain."

The protests in Moscow have been held weekly since mid-July as election authorities blocked some opposition and independent candidates from registering to run in upcoming municipal elections.

Police have violently dispersed several of the demonstrations, some of which authorities described as "illegal mass gatherings."

More than 2,000 people have been detained, drawing international condemnation, and some have already received jail sentences.

Demonstrators have continued to gather each week ahead of the September 8 vote despite the sentencings, sweeps aimed at opposition leaders, and official threats.

The protests have turned into a major challenge for the Kremlin and a reflection of growing impatience among Russians with President Vladimir Putin.

With reporting by Reuters

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly identified the man sentenced as Yegor Zhukov, another rally attendee who has been charged with taking part in mass disturbances.