Russia frees activist detained for violating protest laws

A Russian opposition activist who was jailed for repeatedly violating protest laws during mass anti-Kremlin demonstrations last year was released from detention Wednesday.

Konstantin Kotov, an activist and computer programmer, was convicted in September last year under a 2014 law that introduced stiffer sentences for anyone caught taking part in unsanctioned demonstrations more than twice in six months.

“I’m delighted that my detention is over,” he told AFP.

“We need to continue working on protecting human rights in Russia, one way or another,” he said.

The 35-year-old was detained after taking part in a demonstration demanding free local polls in Moscow in August last year.

A court in the Russian capital commuted his sentence in April to one year and six months after the Constitutional Court opened an unexpected review of his case.

His lawyer Maria Eismont told AFP Wednesday she intends to file a case to the European Court of Human Rights over Kotov’s detention. 

“We’re not going to forgive a system that took an innocent man and threw him in jail for almost a year and a half,” she said.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament this month submitted draft legislation that would tighten protest rules and prohibit consecutive single-person pickets.

Kremlin critics have increasingly used the workaround to avoid seeking approval from authorities for public gatherings, permission which is rarely granted.