A Russian court handed down a suspended sentence to a university student charged with "extremism” for his anti-Kremlin YouTube videos, rejecting prosecutors’ calls for a prison term in a case activists called a small victory amid the government’s crackdown on opponents.
The court also sentenced Yegor Zhukov, 21, to sharply restricted Internet use for the next two years, apparently an attempt to prevent him from continuing his video blogging. After the ruling, he said he wasn’t sure whether the ban on administering sites would prevent him from running his blog, Interfax report.
Zhukov’s case drew wide support among young Russians, including music stars and the daughter of president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman. He was initially charged with organising mass unrest for participating in anti-government protests in Moscow in July but prosecutors later dropped the unrest allegation and added the extremism charge.
After the largest anti-Kremlin protests in years swept the capital this summer, authorities have reacted harshly, charging more than three dozen people in what’s come to be known as the "Moscow Case.” Several have been sentenced to jail terms for assaulting police in the protests, at times for seemingly minor violations.
In some of the cases, the authorities seemed to soften their stance in the face of public pressure, releasing jailed defendants to house arrest or issuing reduced sentences. Several other protesters are expected to be sentenced later Friday.
Supporters outside the court cheered after the verdict in Zhukov’s case was announced. But enthusiasm was limited by the guilty verdict. "Yegor Zhukov got a suspended sentence for nothing today,” activist Ilya Yashin wrote on Twitter. – Bloomberg
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