Woman Protests Sentence With Hunger
A Yabloko Democratic Party member went on dry hunger strike Monday after being sentenced to 10 days in prison for taking part in a Strategy 31 demo on Saturday.
Maria Kozhevatova, who was holding an anti-Putin poster, was detained at the unauthorized demo in defense of freedom of assembly. Strategy 31 demos have been held regularly in St. Petersburg since January 2010.
Magistrate Judge Alexei Kuznetsov of Judicial District 21 sentenced her to 10 days in prison for failure to obey a police officer’s lawful orders and fined her 900 rubles ($30) for violating the rules on holding public assemblies Monday.
Kuznetsov had previously sentenced Strategy 31 protesters to terms from one to 15 days in custody on the same charges, but some of his sentences were overruled by courts of appeal as contradicting both Russian law and Russia’s international human rights obligations.
Female protesters had previously been arrested, held at police precincts and fined, but had never been sentenced to terms in custody on such charges.
Anna Dudnikova, an activist with the preservationist group Okhtinskaya Duga who was a defense witness for Kozhevatova, described her arrest and sentence as “absolutely unlawful.”
“Why she got those 10 days in prison cannot be explained logically,” Dudnikova said.
“Kozhevatova held a classic one-person demo (which does not require any previous authorization under Russian law) — without shouting, chanting or saying anything at all.
“She stood alone with a placard. A policeman approached her and asked, ‘A one-person demo?’ ‘Yes, a one-person demo.’ They took down her name and address, without objecting to anything she was doing and went away. Then, after some time, other policemen in helmets grabbed her under the arms without any explanation and dragged her onto a bus. It’s a crystal clear situation.”