Mikhail Kosenko committed to a closed psychiatric hospital by a compulsory treatment court order for his role in the Bolotnaya Square protest has been released.
On Wednesday 11 June the court in Chekhov, just outside Moscow, supported a request by the psychiatric hospital where Mikhail was detained to change the compulsory treatment order laid down at his trial ruling he should be discharged to continue treatment at an outpatient clinic. Two years after his arrest and pre-trial detention the new court ruling entered into force on 21 June 2014.
The prosecutor's office immediately contested the hospital's request saying it contradicted the initial court decision. They attempted to apply for permission to hold Mikhail for additional psychiatric treatment but Judge Sergei Gurov rejected the request.
Bolotnaya Square protest
On 6 May 2012, the eve of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian Presidency, hundreds of protesters were arrested after police brutally dispersed the anti-government protest in Bolotnaya Square, close to the Kremlin in Moscow.
The protest was predominantly peaceful but authorities used isolated incidents of violence described as ‘mass riots’ to arrest and bring heavier charges against protestors. Hundreds of peaceful protestors were randomly arrested, including Mikhail.
Mikhail was released the next day, but then rearrested in June 2012 and charged with taking part in ‘mass riots’ and using violence against public officers and held in pre-trial detention. On 8 October 2013 Mikhail was sentenced to compulsory psychiatric treatment in a court ruling that harked back to Soviet-era tactics to silent dissent.
At the trial Mikhail’s lawyers were denied their request for an additional psychiatric evaluation after arguing that the original evaluation was incomplete, full of inconsistencies, and had cited his political beliefs as supposed evidence of his mental illness.
Right to protest in danger
Eight other Bolotnaya Square protestors were convicted of participation in ‘mass riots’ and of using violence against public officers in February 2014. Many had already spent over a year and half in detention before receiving various sentencing terms from four years in a penal colony to a suspended sentence of three years and three months.
Appeals made in June against their verdicts resulted in reduced sentences for two - Sergey Krivov and Yaroslav Belousov, three years and nine months and two years and three months, respectively. Prison sentences of the other defendants remain unchanged.
Moscow City Court is currently trying the alleged organisers of the riots.
The Bolotnaya Square verdicts are part of a wider clampdown on freedoms of assembly, association and expression since Putin’s return to the Russian presidency.
The case is ‘a warning to all potential protesters that street demonstrations are a ticket to prison.’
John Dalhuisen Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director
We have been calling on the Russian authorities to repeal recent legislation that restricts the rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association.
We consider six of the protestors - Artiom Saviolov, Denis Lutskevich, Yaroslav Belousov, Sergey Krivov, Stepan Zimin and Aleksey Polikhovich - prisoners of conscience, individuals imprisoned solely for peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of assembly and expression. They are prisoners of conscience, and all charges against them should be dropped.
Two other co-defendants - Aleksandra Dukhanina (Naumova) and Andrey Barabanov - have similarly been dealt with injustly, and their convictions on charges of participating in mass riots should be overturned.