Russian journalist Ilya Azar released early from jail after one-man protest

Russian journalist Ilya Azar released early from jail after one-man protest
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By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Authorities in Moscow have released Russian journalist Ilya Azar early after he was jailed for staging a one-man protest against the detention of another activist.

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A prominent Russian journalist was released early from custody in Moscow on Sunday after having been arrested for staging a one-man picket.

Ilya Azar, a Moscow legislator and journalist for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was sentenced to 15 days last week for staging his lone protest over the jailing of activist Vladimir Vorontsov. His picket took place during Russia's coronavirus lockdown.

Such actions do not normally require preliminary permission from the authorities.

"Solo picketing is a legal and agreed action and we have to keep picketing," explained Azar on his release. "However, we also have to keep in mind the judgment of the Moscow City Court, which ruled that a solo protest has to be agreed with Moscow officials. It's a weird decision. Let's see, we have a hearing on Monday to examine this law, maybe this decision will not stand. To my mind, this is a completely absurd decision."

Azar's arrest led to similar single-person protests from other journalists and opposition activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Dozens of them were also detained under the same legislation.

Azar insists that the Russian Constitution gives the right to citizens to hold one-person pickets without any authorisation.

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