Russian Opposition Celebrates As Court Acquits Activist

Ildar Dadin, a symbol for the fight for democracy in Russia, was the first to be sentenced under a controversial new law against public protests

Ildar Dadin
Feb 22, 2017 at 5:11 AM ET

The Russian supreme court has overturned the jail sentence imposed on the peaceful opposition and LGBT rights activist Ildar Dadin, who was found guilty of violating a controversial law regarding public protests.

Dadin was the first Russian to be sentenced in 2015 over a new law known as Article 212.1, which deemed repeat anti-government street demonstrations a criminal offence punishable by up to five years of prison time. Dadin was first sentenced to three years’ jail, which was later reduced by six months.

Ildar Dadin has become a symbol of Russia’s growing dissent, and human rights groups have repeatedly called for his release.

The leader of the Russian opposition Alexey Navalny tweeted on Wednesday, “Dadin’s verdict was canceled. Great news, but it is important to remember that he was innocent, and was kept and tortured in prison for a year-and-a-half.”

In November, the Russian media published a letter by Dadin saying that he was subject to torture while serving his sentence in a prison in northwestern Russia. However, independent doctors who visited him found no signs of bodily injuries, neither did investigators, according to the Russian news agency TASS. Following outrage over the allegations, Russian authorities moved Dadin to a facility in Siberia.