Oct 15, 2020
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ECHR registered a complaint of activist Konstantin Kotov against an illegal criminal case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has registered a complaint against the illegal criminal prosecution of activist Konstantin Kotov, convicted of violating the rules for organizing a rally, TASS reports, citing lawyer Nikolai Zboroshenko.

According to him, the complaint contested actions on the part of the Russian Federation, according to Conventions 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 18, as well as Article 4 of Protocol 7 - imprisonment, vague, vague nature of the charge brought, failure to provide Kotov with sufficient time and opportunities to prepare their defense, limiting the defense's ability to present evidence versus the prosecution, being in an aquarium during a trial, prosecuting him for participating in peaceful assemblies, and calling for a peaceful assembly.

On September 5, 2019, the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow sentenced programmer Konstantin Kotov to 4 years in a general regime colony. He was found guilty of repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or holding a meeting, meeting, demonstration, procession or picketing (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The Memorial Human Rights Center recognized the activist as a political prisoner.

The updated accusation contained five episodes: participation in a gathering in support of the arrested anarchist Azat Miftakhov (March 2, 2019), participation in a gathering "In Defense of the New Generation" near the FSB building (May 13, 2019), participation in an action in support of Ivan Golunov, and against the falsification of criminal cases (June 12), a call to go to Trubnaya Square on July 19 due to the non-admission of opposition candidates to the elections to the Moscow City Duma (July 15, 2019), participation in a walk after a rally agreed by the authorities for fair elections (August 10 of the same year) ...

The activist was detained at the four above-mentioned events. For three months, Kotov received three administrative punishments in a row: for organizing an unauthorized action on May 15 (part 8 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code), for participating in an uncoordinated rally in support of Ivan Golunov (part 6.1 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code, a fine of 15 thousand rubles), as well as for calls for participation in an unauthorized action on Trubnaya Square (part 2 of Article 20.2, arrest for 10 days).

An exception was the action on Trubnaya: although Kotov was not detained there, but later, on July 24, he was arrested due to accusations of calling for participation in it.

Prosecution witnesses - 13 police officers - said that the defendant participated in an uncoordinated rally on August 10, shouted slogans and gave interviews. However, the Dozhd TV channel found a recording of Kotov's arrest and reported that the video shows how Kotov left the metro without chanting anything and was detained half a minute later.

The second cassation court on March 2 sent the Kotov case for review to the appeal instance of the Moscow City Court. Initially, the Moscow City Court was supposed to review the case on March 26, but due to the epidemiological situation, the meeting was postponed several times. After that, the Constitutional Court received an appeal from representatives of Kotov with a request to check Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or holding a meeting, meeting, demonstration, procession or picketing) for compliance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

On January 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Prosecutor General's Office to organize a verification of the legality of Kotov's conviction. After that, the Prosecutor General's Office asked the court to reduce the sentence to Kotov from four years to one year. The court also received a complaint from the Ombudsman, in which the verdict was called “excessively harsh”. The defense insisted on canceling the sentence.

On January 27, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled to reconsider the sentence to Kotov. The Constitutional Court indicated that when sentencing under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, according to which Kotov was convicted, the courts are obliged to study all the circumstances of the case and can impose a sentence of imprisonment only if it is reliably established that the actions of the defendant at a public event posed a real threat to public order ... After that, the Moscow City Court, during the review of the case, appointed the activist a new punishment in the form of a year and a half in a penal colony for repeated violations of the rules for holding a rally.

Later, the Moscow City Court confirmed the legality of the conviction of the verdict and noted that more than 1,500 participants in the uncoordinated action, "being united by a destructive ideology, were capable of causing significant harm to the legally protected rights and interests of both other persons and the participants in the action." Kotov himself chanted slogans "aimed at undermining the authority and disorganization of state power in Russia," as well as provocative calls to overthrow the Russian president, "to violate the current legislation, which in their essence were aimed at undermining the constitutional order." Therefore, his behavior was recognized as destructive and deliberately illegal, as well as the behavior of the participants in the illegal action, the court stressed.

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