MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) – Thousands of people gathered for a protest march in downtown Moscow on Sunday urging the authorities to drop charges against a group of activists facing lengthy jail terms over a 2012 mass anti-Kremlin rally.
Leftist opposition leader and one of the suspects, Sergei Udaltsov estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 participated in the march, while the police reports said that some 2,000 people took to the capital’s boulevards.
Last week, a Moscow court held the final deliberations in the so-called Bolotnoye case over the rally that took place on May 6, 2012, on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to his third presidential term. The sanctioned rally ended with protesters clashing with police on the downtown Bolotnaya Square where over 500 people were detained.
Since then, more than 20 activists were accused of their roles in the “mass riots” that day. The Sunday protest called on the officials to release the jailed suspects and drop the whole case.
At least eight people face jail terms ranging between five and six years in connections with the case. Charges against eight others have been dropped recently under the presidential amnesty marking the 20th anniversary of the Constitution.
Three others have been convicted, and one was ordered to be treated at a psychiatric hospital.
The Moscow authorities had sanctioned the Sunday demonstration, warning, however, that its slogans should not refer to the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Ukraine’s political crisis.