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Tatar Activist Released From Prison After Softening Of Criminal Code On Extremism

Danis Safargali was met outside the prison in the Kirov region by his wife on March 4.

VOSTOCHNY, Russia -- A Tatar activist from the Russian republic of Tatarstan has been released from prison on March 4 after the article on extremism in the Russian Criminal Code was partially decriminalized.

Danis Safargali's wife and other relatives met him at the prison gates in the Kirov region in the Volga Federal District on March 4.

Last month, a local court canceled Safargali's conviction on extremism due to the amendment to the extremism-related article in the Criminal Code.

In late December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that removed punishment by prison for first-time offenders found to have incited ethnic, religious, and other forms of hatred and discord in public, including in the media or on the Internet.

Safargali, the leader of the Tatar patriotic movement Altyn Urda (The Golden Horde), was arrested in October 2016.

He was sentenced in 2017 to three years in prison after a court in Tatarstan found him guilty of inciting hatred on the Internet, inflicting bodily harm, and hooliganism -- charges which rights groups say are fabricated. He has denied all charges.

Memorial, a Moscow-based human rights center, has called Safargali a political prisoner.