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Top Russian public figures demand release of actor jailed for assaulting cop during protest

Top Russian public figures demand release of actor jailed for assaulting cop during protest
Russia’s most prominent journalists, pop stars, and actors claim actor Pavel Ustinov has suffered a miscarriage of justice. He was convicted of injuring a cop at an anti-government protest, despite videos suggesting his innocence.

“It is impossible to stay silent. You cannot put an innocent man in jail,” actress Julia Snigir wrote on Facebook.

“The cynicism with which this was carried out could touch any of us,” actor and director Danila Kozlovsky posted on Instagram.

“Injustice brings down governments,” wrote RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan on Twitter.

Many simply shared an identical visual message made in support of Ustinov, 23, on their social media accounts with personal message of support.

The coordinated online protest is particularly notable as it has united both traditional opposition figures, with mostly online followings, and mainstream TV personalities and media figures traditionally loyal to the government. The collective following of those who posted on social media about the case numbers in the tens of millions.

Also on rt.com Young actor gets 3.5 years for injuring police officer during Moscow protests

On Monday, a Moscow court sentenced Ustinov to three and a half years in a corrective colony for causing physical and moral injuries to Aleksandr Lyagin, a riot police officer who helped detain him during the unsanctioned protests in the Russian capital on August 3.

Sergeant Lyagin told the judge that he spent 20 days in a Moscow hospital with a dislocated shoulder, and had written statements confirming his injuries from doctors and other law enforcement officials present during the demonstration, at which 600 people were detained.

Ustinov pleaded not guilty, saying that he had merely been a bystander during the protests, which had been organized in response to the disqualification of scores of opposition candidates from city assembly elections. He insisted that he neither swore at security officials, nor attempted to resist arrest.

Videos shot by multiple cameras present at the demonstration appear to corroborate his story.

Footage shows a four-man armed police patrol moving purposefully through an apparently peaceful crowd in the vicinity of the Kremlin, before abruptly targeting a stationary Ustinov, dragging him across the ground as he attempts to escape, and repeatedly beating him with truncheons, all in view of tens of yellow-vested journalists.

That charges were brought against him despite the existence of video clips, widely viewed on YouTube, created a wave of outrage even prior to the two-day hearing, at which prosecutors demanded a six-year term for Ustinov. Judges refused to accept the video as evidence.

Also on rt.com Moscow police fires 4 officers involved in drug arrest of journalist Golunov

A precedent of effective public protest against miscarriages of justice was also set in June, when a wave of celebrity and online condemnations led to the dropping of the charges against opposition journalist Ivan Golunov. He was arrested for drug possession and distribution, but insisted that the drugs had been planted by law enforcement officials. The officers involved have since been sacked.

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