Anti-Kremlin Activists Jailed Over Peaceful Protest

Klimov, Chervochkin and Sidorin.  Source: nazbol.ruTwo Russian youth activists have been sentenced to two and a half years for their role in an opposition demonstration held over a year ago. An Odintsovo city court convicted the pair on a rarely used statute, for “impeding in the exercise of electoral laws or the work of electoral commissions”. As the Sobkor®ru news agency reported on March 31st, Sergei Klimov and Vladimir Sidorin believe their charged are false and preposterous.

The event in question took place on March 11th, 2007, when three activists of the banned National Bolshevik Party led a protest at an Odintsovo polling station. Sergei Klimov, Vladimir Sidorin and the late Yury Chervochkin lit flares, chanted “These elections are a farce!” and handed out flyers demanding that all Russian political parties have a chance to participate in Parliamentary elections. The next day, the prosecutor’s office of the Moscow oblast launched a criminal case against them, and imprisoned the activists pending investigation. After a month behind bars, the three were released with a written pledge not to leave town. All of them had pled innocence.

Chervochkin, 23, a local leader of the National Bolshevik Party, began receiving threats from UBOP special forces after he was released. On November 22, 2007, on the eve of an opposition protest known as a “March of Dissent,” he was attacked and severely beaten near his home. He did not regain consciousness, and perished on December 10th, 2007. Shortly before the tragedy, he managed to make a call to the Sobkor®ru news agency, telling them that he was being followed by members of the UBOP special forces that he recognized from earlier encounters. The case against him was dropped after his death.

It was earlier reported that the prosecution had asked for 2.5 year sentences for each of the accused. Their own attorneys had said that there were no factual grounds in the case, and had asked for their immediate release.

Sergei Klimov spoke the final words before the trial was adjourned. He explained that he had never planned to break the law, and that his intention had been a peaceful political action. He underscored that elections in today’s Russia are not democratic, that the results are falsified, and that society must battle against such a system.