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Following today’s decision by Moscow City Court to uphold the conviction of human rights defender Konstantin Kotov and sentence him to a year-and-a-half in a penal colony, Amnesty International Russia’s Director Natalia Zviagina said:

“This decision is a profound injustice. Konstantin Kotov has spent more than eight months behind bars simply for taking part in peaceful protests, after being convicted under the notoriously repressive Article 212.1.

“Although the court reduced his sentence from four years, the fact remains that he should never have been detained at all. Konstantin Kotov is a prisoner of conscience, he must be acquitted and freed.

“The Russian authorities must also repeal Article 212.1. This dangerous law was introduced as part of a campaign to crush peaceful protests and presents a threat to the rights of every person in Russia.”

Background

On September 5, 2019, Konstantin Kotov was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment following an unusually swift trial that lasted less than a day, for “repeated violation of the established procedure of organizing or holding public events” (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code). On January 27, 2020, the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled that Konstantin Kotov’s case should be reconsidered.

The case was then reviewed by the Moscow City Court. An Amnesty International representative appeared at the trial as a witness. On 20 April, the court ruled to uphold his conviction and reduce his prison sentence from four years to a year-and-a-half in a penal colony.

Article 212.1 was introduced in 2014 as a part of campaign of restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Konstantin Kotov is the third person who has been tried and convicted under Article 212.1, alongside Ildar Dadin and Andrey Borovikov.

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