A Vologda province court has ordered the release of a anarchist political activist Ruslan Gatamov. He was convicted in October 2021 on a “hooliganism” charge in relation to a protest on October 30–31, 2019 at an office of the United Russia Party and sentenced to 300 hours (12.5 days) of correctional labor. Although Gatamov pleaded not guilty to the charge, he admitted throwing a Molotov cocktail at the wall of the United Russia office. The court released Gatamov over the prosecution’s objections on humanitarian grounds, without canceling his conviction.
The case stands in marked contrast with that of another anarchist political activist, Azat Miftakhov, who received a six year prison sentence in January 2021, accused of breaking a window during another protest, also at a United Russia office, and also convicted of “hooliganism.” The charge against Miftakhov, based on fabricated evidence of “secret” government witnesses, was on its face less serious than that against Gatamov. Yet Miftakhov was tortured and mistreated while imprisoned and received a grossly excessive sentence that he is currently serving in a labor colony in Omutninsk. We call on the Russian authorities to exercise leniency and compassion in Azat Miftakhov’s case, which they have just demonstrated they are capable of doing, and to immediately release Azat from imprisonment.