Russian jailed two-and-a-half years for slapping governor

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A Russian court on Friday sentenced an opposition activist to two-and-a-half years in prison for slapping the governor of the Tomsk region in Siberia, the regional prosecutor's office said.

A Tomsk district court found Sergei Zaikov guilty of using violence against an official after he slapped governor Viktor Kress in the face during his annual address, regional prosecutors said in a statement.

The opposition activist told the governor at the time: "This is for the death of my grandmother."

He was arrested two days later and spent six months behind bars before the trial.

Zaikov claimed in his blog that his grandmother died after a raid by the security services in 1999, when Kress was already governor. He also accused the regional chief of ordering an attack in which he was beaten with a baseball bat.

Defence lawyer Oleg Mustafayev called the sentence "unjust" and said his client would appeal in a regional court, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Zaikov has been a member of liberal groups Solidarnost and the United Civic Front. Last year he filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights over his lengthy pre-trial detention.

The activist has a history of lashing out against politicians. In 1993, he received a suspended sentence for kicking the region's parliamentary representative Stepan Sulakshin in the rear.

© 2011 AFP

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