While a crowd outside the court chanted “freedom” and “shame”, a judge in Moscow has imprisoned seven out of eight people convicted for “rioting and attacking police” during a protest against President Vladimir Putin in May 2012.
The eighth accused, a woman, was given a suspended sentence.
Outside at least 200 people were detained as police tried to break up a crowd of several hundred who had come to lend their support to the accused. In the crowd were human rights activists, opposition leaders, and two of the recently-freed members of the Pussy Riot group.
“I hope we as citizens are able to find inspiration from understanding that, like in Ukraine, it’s possible to remove Tzars we don’t like. I hope it will have a positive impact on our civil society. But with regard to Putin, it’s clear that this situation troubles and frightens him,” said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Also in the crowd was opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained along with the feminist activists. Veteran human rights campaigner and Helsinki group leader Lyudmila Alexeyeva was also present.
“Compared to what’s going on in other countries in the world, can we even call what happened two years ago a mass disturbance? It is, as they say, worse than lies, it’s plain stupidity. Because if we start calling these “mass disturbances”, they might actually start happening,” she said.
The sentences, between two and a half to four years, were shorter than the prosecution had demanded, but that will be of little comfort for those found guilty. Opposition figures have called for a new demonstration in Moscow tonight.