Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Akimenkov’

May 2013

A Rare Case of Justice in Russia

World Affairs

Good news from Russia, politically speaking, is a scarce commodity—especially if it involves opponents of Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, a Moscow City Court judge overturned the extension of pretrial detention for Vladimir Akimenkov, one of 17 people who are currently being held behind bars in the so-called “Bolotnaya case.” According to the government’s version, the mass protests against Putin’s inauguration on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, turned into “riots.” An independent expert commission established by human rights groups has concluded that the violence was deliberately provoked by the authorities to create a pretext for the subsequent crackdown.

Akimenkov, now 25, was arrested last June on the charges of “participating in riots” and engaging in “violence against representatives of the authorities”—charges that could land him in prison for eight years. The entire case is built on the (constantly changing) “witness testimony” of one police officer by the name of Yegorov. Akimenkov categorically denies the charges, as do most of the other “Bolotnaya prisoners.”

The activist suffers from inborn eye diseases, including a severe myopia, partial atrophy of the eye nerve, and coloboma of the iris. While in detention, he is being denied the necessary medical treatment. His eyesight is steadily worsening—now down to just 10 percent. If not released soon, Akimenkov could go completely blind. But, until now, this did not seem sufficient reason for the authorities to release him on bail before the start of the trial—nor, indeed, did the personal guaranties offered by State Duma members Ilya Ponomarev and Boris Kashin, popular writer Ludmila Ulitskaya, and human rights leaders Ludmila Alekseeva and Lev Ponomarev.

Thursday’s ruling was the first case of a successful appeal in the “Bolotnaya case.” Akimenkov’s attorneys were as surprised as anyone. Now—unless prosecutors appeal—the activist will be released on June 10th, the day his previous arrest expires.

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