Campaign diary

Putin’s leniency

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Andrei Kosykh in court. Photo: Petr Kassin/Kommersant

by Sarah Hurst

Today the Moscow city court reduced the sentence of Andrei Kosykh, who participated in Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption protest of March 26 in Moscow, from four years in prison to three years and eight months. Kosykh, a 30-year-old freight handler who had dreamed of becoming a musician, was convicted of injuring riot policeman Yevgeny Gavrilov. The same policeman gave evidence against young engineer Ivan Nepomnyashchikh in 2015 at his trial for protesting on May 6, 2012. Nepomnyashchikh served a 2 ½-year prison sentence, then left Russia.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Kosykh told a reporter from Dozhd TV during his trial. “But at that moment what was happening seemed unfair to me. First [police] shoved a young woman, and that got to me. Then they started ‘taking’ guys, not the tough ones, but the weaker ones… I spontaneously reacted each time, it was just that kind of atmosphere,” he said. Kosykh admitted he kicked or hit three riot policemen during the skirmishes.

It was Kosykh’s first involvement in politics – like thousands of others he was inspired to go out on the streets because of Navalny’s video “Don’t Call Him Dimon” about Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s alleged corruption, which has received nearly 25 million views on YouTube. Many of Kosykh’s friends and acquaintances provided character references for his case, saying that he organised events for orphans and had donated 80 books to his local library. His mother is a member of Putin’s United Russia party. None of that saved him from being one of the dozens of people now languishing in prison for protesting against Putin.

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