Court fines Putin-masked activist for Red Square stunts
A Russian court on Thursday fined an opposition activist for repeatedly protesting on Red Square in a President Vladimir Putin mask, ordering his mask destroyed.
Roman Roslovtsev, who stages one-man pickets against Russia’s laws criminalising peaceful protest, said a judge fined him over two incidents this month when he walked on Red Square in a Putin mask while holding a protest sign.
Moscow’s Tverskoi district court fined him 30,000 rubles ($461) for twice breaking the rules on public protests, Roslovtsev said.
The judge also ordered “the mask and the sign destroyed as the object of a violation,” he added.
Police have confiscated his masks after every performance, and he has to buy a new one each time for 600 rubles (about $9), he said.
“I’ve already been detained as Putin eight times,” he added.
Roslovtsev protests as Putin holding a sign saying “I’m not afraid of article 212.1,” referring to recent legislation making repeated participation in unsanctioned rallies a crime punishable by up to five years in jail.
“I chose this image because it looks comical when Putin gets detained, and also because it makes other people interested,” he explained. “They come up to me and ask me what 212.1 is.”
Roslovtsev said his conviction was a violation of the law as one-person pickets do not require any authorisation, but police have arrested such protesters in the vicinity of Red Square next to the Kremlin.
Roslovtsev started staging his masked promenades on Red Square after police repeatedly broke up peaceful opposition rallies he was participating in.
He has already been prosecuted and fined six times in amounts between 10,000 and 15,000 rubles ($154-230), but says he refuses to pay.
In December, Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years in jail (later reduced by 6 months), becoming the first protester convicted under the new legislation and inspiring Roslovtsev to action.
“My goal is to expose this law as absurd,” Roslovtsev said, adding that he expects to be eventually put him in prison.
“It’s only a matter of time,” he said. “That will complete the performance.”