Bolotnoye Case Sentences to Come Monday
Published: February 24, 2014 (Issue # 1798)
A Moscow court on Friday convicted eight people of participating in riots and violence against police at an opposition protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in May 2012, as hundreds of supporters rallied without permission outside the court, resulting in nearly 200 detentions.
Human rights groups and Western governments believe that the trial, widely known simply as the "Bolotnoye case," has been orchestrated by the Kremlin with the aim of discouraging ordinary people from participating in opposition street protests.
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The trial, already a focus of opposition anger, has taken on additional significance recently due to the political crisis in Ukraine, where over the weekend Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital under tenacious pressure from anti-government protesters. Russia's political forces seeking the ouster of President Vladimir Putin have looked partly with envy at the events in Ukraine, and could attempt to rally their supporters around the Bolotnoye case to spur on their own movement.
"You are delighted by the great deed of the people on Maidan," wrote opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a blog post on Sunday, referring to the main square in Kiev where the protests have been based. "Their self-organization and self-sacrifice. Remember that great deeds begin with small things."
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"There is no need yet to face gunfire, but you must come and support the hostages who will be sentenced in the May 6 case," Navalny wrote.
The Zamoskvoretsky District Court is expected to announce the sentences Monday starting at 10:30 a.m. An unsanctioned demonstration against the verdict is planned for Monday evening on Manezh Square next to the Kremlin, although the police typically cordon off the square ahead of planned unauthorized protests.
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