MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) – A court in Moscow is due to rule Friday in the case of eight opposition protesters charged with attacking police at the only rally in a season of protests in Russia that culminated in violence.
The defendants, who comprise mostly leftist activists, face up to six years in jail.
Anti-government activists, including prominent anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, called on their supporters to gather outside the courtroom for what many observers expect will be a guilty verdict.
Calls have also been made for an unsanctioned rally Friday on Manezh Square, which lies at the ramparts of Kremlin, in the event of the defendants being found guilty.
Opposition and police clashed on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. Police accused leftist leaders of instigating the clashes, while the opposition says police mishandled and provoked the crowd, possibly deliberately.
About 650 people were briefly detained on Bolotnaya. Twenty-seven faced criminal persecution, though some were cleared by a presidential amnesty approved last year, before the verdict was passed in their cases.