UPDATED 7:22 AM PT — Friday, September 6, 2019
Russian courts continue to hand lengthy prison terms to protesters, who took part in anti-government rallies over the summer. In a ruling Thursday, a Moscow court sentenced activist Konstantin Kotov to four years in prison. The judge said Kotov repeatedly abused the right to free assembly by participating in protests three consecutive times.
The ruling sparked outrage among Russian opposition, human-rights groups. and anti-corruption activists. They say the sentence is anti-constitutional and is designed to intimidate Russian citizens as well as discourage future protests.
Scenes outside a Moscow courtroom where activist Konstantin Kotov has just been convicted of violating the law on public gatherings and sentenced to 4 (four) years in prison. https://t.co/e7f3xe2rje
— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) September 5, 2019
“Kostya Kotov is holding up, he is a man of principle. He has been sincerely concerned for everyone who was convicted illegally, and he was ready to come out in protest for each and every one. The regime had warned him. The district police officer stopped by and told him — ‘if you continue to come out to protests, things may happen’.”
— Maria Eismont, attorney for jailed Russian protester Konstantin Kotov
Over the past few days, several protesters have been sentenced to years in prison in the run-up to highly contested municipal and regional elections across Russia.