Moscow City Court Commutes Sentence of Civil Activist Konstantin Kotov
20 April, 2020

The Moscow city court reduced the term of activist Konstantin Kotov, who was engaged in agitating for the release of Ukrainian political prisoners, from four years in prison to 18 months, on charges of violating protest rules. The court session was broadcast on the Moscow City Court website.

This was reported by Novaya Gazeta.

Kotov was sentenced to four years in September 2019. He has served eight months, and spent another 2.5 months in the pre-trial detention center, where each day counts for one and a half in the colony.

READ MORE: Inside Moscow’s Courtroom Crackdown: The Case of Activist Konstantin Kotov

The activist, along with others, attended rallies calling for the release of captured Ukrainian sailors, and brought them parcels.

In October 2019, the Moscow City Court refused to commute his sentence.

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation was ordered to review the case after Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the prosecutor's office to check the legality of the sentence. In early February, the prosecutor's office asked the court to reduce the sentence to a year in prison, but at a court hearing on April 20, the prosecutor asked to change the sentence to a year and a half.

During the summer of 2019, mass protests and police brutality captured international attention in the lead up to the Moscow City council elections. Nevertheless, the protests persisted, with demonstrations (sanctioned or otherwise) taking place nearly every weekend up until the election on September 8.

The 34-year-old Kotov was among those detained during the wave of protests. As a civil activist involved in demonstrations in support of a variety of causes, Kotov had been attending government-approved gatherings and unauthorized protests all year long. So when he was detained during an unsanctioned protest for fair elections on August 10, it was not his first arrest.

As such, Kotov was put on trial under the “Dadin Article” no. 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code – a controversial clause introduced in July 2014 to criminalize repeated violations of the country’s laws regulating public assemblies.

It was named after Ildar Dadin, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2015. Two years later, Dadin's sentence was canceled.

Kotov is only the second person in Russia to receive a real term under Article 212.1.

READ MORE: Without Putin in Mind: What the Russian Protesters Set out to Achieve