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Students, Graduates Of Moscow State University Demand Jailed Math Student's Release

Protesters rally for the release of Azat Miftakhov in Moscow on July 25.
Protesters rally for the release of Azat Miftakhov in Moscow on July 25.

Students and graduates of the Moscow State University (MGU) have staged a protest demanding the release of Azat Miftakhov, amid fears a math student who has been in custody for six months on what rights defenders call "politically motivated charges" may have been tortured.

The group called the Initiative Group of MGU placed a large sign outside the university rector's office on July 25 saying "#FREEAZAT." It also placed a photo of the sign on the popular VKontakte social network.

The group noted in the post that Rector Viktor Sadovnichy is a member of the ruling United Russia party's Supreme Council and therefore "can and must demand the release of the graduate student."

"We will use all possible forms to fight for the release of the young scientist," the group wrote.

Miftakhov, 25, a postgraduate mathematics student at MGU, was arrested on February 1 and accused of helping make an improvised bomb found in January in the city of Balashikha near Moscow.

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

​The Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights group, has said that Miftakhov's body bears signs of torture, which the student said 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 also claimed to have been beaten by police.

Miftakhov was released on February 7 after the initial charge failed to hold, but he was then rearrested immediately and charged with involvement in an arson attack on the United Russia's office in Moscow in January 2018.

Miftakhov has rejected all of the charges and says he may have been targeted by police because of his anarchist views.

In March, a prominent Russian human rights organization, Memorial, recognized Miftakhov as a political prisoner.

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