By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
MOSCOW, Russia – On Friday, Maxim Luzyanin was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for “mass disorder” and violence against the police. Luzyanin was one of the first individuals arrested in May during a protest of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.
Although Judge Andrei Fedin said “Luzyanin’s correction was not possible without isolating him from society,” Luzyanin’s lawyers maintain that the sentence was “harsh” and plan to appeal.
Furthermore, several opposition members were “unhappy with the length of the prison term, and expected a shorter sentence due to the defendant’s cooperation with investigators.”
Luzyanin, one of the “Bolotnaya 17”, was the only protester to plead guilty. Luzyanin cooperated with the investigators who looked into the causes of the violence in May. His sentence of four-and-a-half years created fear in the other detained individuals.
Prominent Russian opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, stated, “This is either a sign that they will give long sentences to those who will not agree to a deal with investigators, or a sign of the widespread Russian and worldwide practice when the first to confess and cooperate gets immediately a long sentence, to scare the rest to death.”
Dmitry Agranovsky, the defense lawyer for the other’s in the “Bolotnaya 17”, said he was “disappointed” with Luzyanin’s sentence, and he would put forth the appropriate effort to obtain a shorter jail term for his own defendants.
He continued, “There is a chance that others on trial will make the conclusion that it does not matter whether you cooperate with the investigation or not, you will still get a harsh sentence. I believe if the defendant cooperated, the court has to go lightly on him.”
However, Vladimir Putin, who has held a position of power in Russia since 2000, pushed various laws through parliament, such as increasing fines for protesters.
Russia’s investigative committee released a statement that said, “Those who think they can with impunity organize riots, plan and prepare terrorist attacks and other acts that threaten the lives and health of Russians, you underestimate the Russian special services’ professionalism.”
Since the violent protest in May, opposition groups deceased protests and now explore future strategies.
For further information, please see:
RFE/RL – Russian Court Hands Down Prison Sentence to ‘Bolotnaya’ Protester – 12 November 2012
Reuters — Jailing of protester underlines harsh Russia crackdown: Navalny – 10 November 2012
RT — Russian Court Issues first ‘Bolotnaya’ verdict: Protester Jailed for 4.5 years – 10 November 2012
The Independent – Anti-Putin protester jailed for four and a half years – 9 November 2012