Russian policeman gets suspended term for beating protester

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A Russian policeman on Monday was handed a suspended 3.5-year suspended sentence for abuse of power after he beat a protester with a baton at a Saint Petersburg rally last year.

"Vadim Boiko was today handed a suspended 3.5-year sentence," a spokeswoman for Saint Petersburg's Kuibyshevsky District Court told AFP.

The 35-year old policeman became an Internet sensation after a video from an opposition rally that took place in Russia's second city on July 2010 was uploaded on YouTube.

In the video, Boiko can be heard yelling at the crowd: "You bunch of ferrets, screw you all! Who wants more?" before beating a rally protester with a truncheon. Boiko's defence plans to appeal the ruling.

Russian police are known for brutally dispersing opposition rallies but over the past weeks they have started handling the protests with much more caution as a protest movement in Russia is gaining momentum.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin faces the biggest protest wave in Russia since the 1990s as fatigue with his 12-year rule is setting in across the country.

Opposition activists said 120,000 people attended a rally in central Moscow Saturday where protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Putin. Police put the numbers at 29,000. More than 50,000 rallied near the Kremlin walls on December 10.

© 2011 AFP

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