A man who has spent almost two years in jail for attacking a police officer and was pardoned by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was released on Wednesday.
“I still can’t believe I’m free,” Mokhnatkin said outside the prison gate.
He said later he would go back to the prison - to bring some books because “the library there is very small.”
Mokhnatkin was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for attacking a police officer during a freedom of assembly rally on Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square on December 31, 2009.
Mokhnatkin said he did not take part in the rally, but attempted to verbally defend an elderly female protester who was being roughly detained by police. Sergeant Dmitry Moiseyev testified that Mokhnatkin had headbutted him and broken his nose.
Mokhnatkin and defense witnesses said it was Mokhnatkin who was beaten by policemen at the rally, but their testimony was ignored by the court.
The prosecutor demanded a five-year jail sentence for the man. His appeal was rejected.
Mokhnatkin’s arrest and jailing sparked a wave of protests across Russia, with opposition supporters declaring him a political prisoner. The man has repeatedly complained of mistreatment at the high security prison in the central Russian Tver region where he was held, including beatings, unjustified incarceration, and placement under continuous video surveillance.
Mokhnatkin’s lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky said on Monday the man had appealed to the president to pardon him. In early March, the Kremlin said Medvedev had ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office to look into the guilty verdicts handed down to 32 people, including Mokhnatkin, as well as former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who were sentenced to 13 years in jail on embezzlement and money laundering charges.