Russian court jails activist for online 'separatist' calls

21st December 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Russian court on Monday sentenced a woman to two years in jail on a separatism charge after she posted on her social networking page about a pro-Ukrainian rally which never happened, her lawyer said.

Darya Polyudova, a 26-year-old from the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, was found guilty of calling for "the violation of Russia's territorial integrity", as well as inciting extremism, her lawyer Andrei Sabinin told AFP.

She will spend 18 months in a penal colony having already spent six months under arrest during the investigation, he said.

In August 2014, Polyudova, a leftist activist who has frequently protested against the conflict in eastern Ukraine and expressed solidarity with Kiev, shared a post advertising a rally "for the federalisation" of the Krasnodar region, which called for greater independence from Moscow.

"She shared the post," said Sabinin, adding that the protest "never physically materialised".

"The extent of public danger of her actions is not commensurate with the punishment," he added.

The protest's organisers had pitched slogans like "Kuban People's Republic", meant to echo the language of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has supported Ukrainian rebels' calls for greater autonomy and pushed Kiev to adopt "federalisation" laws, while the West accuses Russia of having stoked the conflict by sending troops and hardware across the border.

Two other people involved in the rally's group on social network VK have already fled to Ukraine, where they asked for political asylum.

Russia has over the past year introduced severe punishment for public protests, including prison sentences for peaceful protesters who have already been fined three times.

Earlier this year, an activist from the Tatarstan region was jailed for three years on the separatism charge over his alleged advocacy for the region's independence from Moscow.

Kiev and the West blame Russia for fuelling the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, where over 9,000 people died since April 2014. Sporadic clashes continue despite a ceasefire.


© 2015 AFP

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