Russian Activist Harshly Sentenced for Drug Violation

By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – In November of 2010, a Russian opposition activist, Taisiya Osipova, was arrested when four grams of heroin were found in her home. Initially, as a result of her crime, Osipova was sentence to ten years in prison. Osipova’s prison sentence sparked immediate outrage because the sentence is twice as long as prosecutors requested.

Osipova sits behind bars in a Russian courtroom. (Photo Courtesy of RFE/RL)

Although Osipova was originally sentenced to 10 years for the drug violation, upon request, her case was reviewed after ex-President, Dmitry Medvedev, categorized Osipova’s ten-year sentence as “too harsh.”

At the review, Osipova continued to protest her innocence. She claimed that the police planted the drugs as revenge because she refused to testify against her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, a leader of the Other Russia movement. Furthermore, a witness for the defense testified at Osipova’s trial that he saw a police officer put the drugs in her apartment. As a result, a higher court diminished her sentence by two years.

Taisiya Osipova’s unexpected verdict was decided two weeks after the punk band, Pussy Riot, was jailed for two years for their anti-Vladimir Putin performance in Moscow. Osipova’s verdict, as well as the Pussy Riot’s jail sentence, sparked a tremendous amount of criticism as disproportionate.

Eduard Limonov, the leader of the Other Russia party, stated that the Osipova verdict “is not only a political one, its also terrifying revenge”. Additionally, one of Russia’s most prominent opposition figures, Sergei Udaltsov, called the sentence “schizophrenic and monstrous”, and “the triumph of lawlessness and cynicism”.

Many opposition activists have staged regular protests against Osipova’s prosecution, arguing that the charges were the police’s revenge tactic.

In February, Osipova’s name was included on a list of prominent activists described as political prisoners that was presented to then-President, Medvedev. Ultimately, The European Parliament passed a resolution on September 13 condemning Russia’s use of its judiciary for political purposes.

For further information, please see:

RFE/RL — Russian Prosecutor Says Activists’ Sentence Too Harsh – 17 September 2012

The Independent — Activist Taisiya Osipova’s prison sentence is called ‘terrifying revenge’ – 29 August 2012

BBC — Russian activist Taisiya Osipova given long sentence – 28 August 2012

The Huffington Post — Taisiya Osipova Jailed: Wife Of Russian Opposition Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison – 28 August 2012

Author: Impunity Watch Archive