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‘Flagrant injustice’: Prominent Russians stand up for jailed actor Pavel Ustinov

‘Flagrant injustice’: Prominent Russians stand up for jailed actor Pavel Ustinov
Russian celebrities, media bosses, Orthodox priests and a ruling party figure have demanded justice for actor Pavel Ustinov, who was jailed for allegedly attacking a cop during Moscow rallies last month.

By Wednesday afternoon, protesters had begun amassing outside the presidential administration’s building, holding pickets in defense of Pavel Ustinov. Photos and videos shared online showed dozens of people waiting in a long line to pose with a blue banner that reads ‘Free Ustinov.’

Ustinov was sentenced to three years and six months on Monday for dislocating a riot police officer’s shoulder during the massive unsanctioned anti-government demonstration on August 3, according to investigators. The 23-year-old novice actor insisted that he was a bystander at the rally, and his defense appealed the sentence to a higher-level court.

The case resonated widely among fellow actors who demanded his immediate release on social media, with more people from all walks of life joining in.

READ MORE: Young actor gets 3.5 years for injuring police officer during Moscow protests

Earlier on Wednesday, Andrey Turchak, a top MP from the ruling United Russia party, threw his weight behind the actor, calling the prison term “a flagrant injustice” that “shall not be ignored or silenced.”

Referring to several videos that suggested Ustinov’s innocence, he wrote on Instagram: “Each of them shows that the guy was just standing outside the metro. He didn’t touch anyone, didn’t disrupt public order and, of course, wasn’t expecting arrest.”

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin is aware of the videos, but pointed out that only a court appeal could trigger “legal action.” He said the presidential administration can’t dictate anything to the judicial branch.

Aside from that, dozens of Orthodox priests from 11 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Russia itself, made a rare intervention by defending opposition activists held on charges relating to massive protests that rocked the Russian capital in July and August.

At the time, numerous Russians took to the streets to demand free elections after several independent candidates were barred from running for Moscow city council.

An open letter they signed didn’t mentioned Ustinov but said that “the punishment should be relevant to the offense,” and that “courts cannot serve as a means of suppressing dissent.” The Russian Orthodox Church disavowed the letter, suggesting that the priests should raise money for “a competent lawyer that could help.”

Also on rt.com Top Russian public figures demand release of actor jailed for assaulting cop during protest

Meanwhile, the editors-in-chief of three liberal media outlets – ‘Echo of Moscow’ radio station, TV Rain and ‘Novaya Gazeta’ newspaper – have appealed to Russia’s Prosecutor General, urging him to reverse Ustinov’s ruling.

Their action comes on the heels of the coordinated online protest, with both established opposition figures and mainstream TV personalities voicing unease over the prosecution of the actor.

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