SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 24 June 2021, Thursday |

Russian court rules to curb freedom of teen political activist

A Russian court debarred on Tuesday an anti-Kremlin activist from leaving her town near the capital Moscow for over 2 years after finding her guilty of vandalism, a ruling her supporters said was unduly tough.

19-year-old Olga Misik, a journalism student in Moscow, became an anti-government protest symbol as a 17-year-old, when she sat down on the pavement in front of a row of riot police during a 2019 demonstration and read the constitution aloud.

Misik, sometimes known as “the girl with the constitution”, was sentenced by Moscow’s Mirovoy Court to 2 years and 2 months of restricted liberty for splashing paint on a booth outside the Prosecutor General’s office to protest a state crackdown against activists, she said.

The court verdict also means she cannot leave her home at night.

The Mirovoy court, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, also sentenced Ivan Vorobyovsky and Igor Basharimov, who participated in the demonstration with Misik, to similar restrictions. Their defense said it would appeal the verdict.

Opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov said “all of this for a dribble of paint at the entrance of the Prosecutor General’s office that was washed off that same morning.”

Police have stepped up their crackdown on opposition activists in the wake of demonstrations calling for the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.