14 Oct 2019 18:57

Moscow City Court upholds sentence in activist Kotov's case

MOSCOW. Oct 14 - The Moscow City Court has endorsed the sentence earlier handed out to activist Konstantin Kotov, who received four years in a general-security penal colony on the same charges as Ildar Dadin (repeat violation of rules regulating mass public events), an Interfax correspondent reported from courtroom on Monday.

"The judgement issued by the Tverskoi Court of Moscow in the Kotov case has been upheld, and the appeal lodged on Kotov's behalf dismissed," Judge Nina Sharapova said, reading out the decision.

Several dozens of people have turned up in the courthouse to support Kotov, including several priests, opposition activist Nikolai Laskin, political scientist Ekaterina Schulman, Soviet physicist and public activist Lev Ponomarev, and Ildar Dadin, the first man convicted for repeat violation of rules regulating rallies and picketing in Russia.

Thirteen lawyers - Maria Eismont, Eldar Garoz, Anna Stavitskaya, Irina Biryukova, Mikhail Biryukov, Vera Goncharova, Alkhas Abgadzhava, Yury Kostanov, Alexander Pikhovkin, Anastasia Samorukova, Alexei Liptser, Anastasia Kostanova, and Oksana Markeeva - represented Kotov as defense attorneys in the appeal case.

During the parties' pleadings, every one of the attorneys insisted on Kotov's innocence and asked the court to deliver a not guilty verdict. The state prosecutor asked the court to uphold the original judgment.

Kotov said in court that he still admits no wrongdoing, alleging that the charges brought against him were based on the lies told by police officers and Russian Guardsmen.

"I seek a full acquittal, if the court has enough courage to [issue a judgment of acquittal]. No one should ever be tried again on the same charges as me," Kotov said.

Kotov's defense will continue to seek his acquittal, attorney Stavitskaya told Interfax.

"We will apply to the court of cassation and then to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights]," Stavitskaya said on Monday.

On Sept 5, a federal judge at Moscow's Tverskoi Court sentenced Kotov to four years in a general security prison for repeat violation of the rules on public events.

The relevant article of the Russian Criminal Code became broadly known as "Dadin's" article after opposition activist Ildar Dadin, the first man charged and convicted for the offence.

In the presentation of arguments, the state prosecutor asked the court to sentence Kotov to 4.5 years in prison.

According to investigators, Kotov, "who had repeatedly been indicted for administrative offences described in Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation [breaching rules on public events] over the previous 180 days, in violation of the existing laws took part in an illegal public event - an unpermitted rally in central Moscow - on August 10, 2019. Moreover, he disregarded legal demands from police officers who requested that he stop illegal actions."

The court proceedings in the Kotov case lasted two days, enough for the judge to interrogate 13 law enforcement officers. The officers were on duty during the event as part of security measures taken in light of the mass protest in the Russian capital, where the activist was detained. A representative of the Moscow mayor's office spoke in court to support the prosecution. Four witnesses were heard for the defense. The defense witnesses testified that Kotov had not committed any crime. They all referred to him as a peaceful citizen.

The defense attorneys insisted that the defendant was innocent. They asked the court to close the criminal case due to a lack of adequate evidence.

Chairman of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said that his organization will look into the verdict.

"We will study the judgment as soon as we get the document. It will be very important for us to learn how the court reflected in its judgment the legal conclusions of the Russian Constitutional Court concerning this particular article of the Criminal Code," Fedotov told Interfax.