September 16, 2019 / 10:32 AM / a month ago

Russia jails novice actor for hurting policeman at protest

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court sentenced 23-year-old novice actor Pavel Ustinov to 3 1/2 years in prison on Monday for using violence against a policeman during one in a recent series of unauthorized protests in Moscow.

Ustinov became the sixth person convicted after the demonstrations demanding that a slew of opposition candidates be allowed to take part in the election, which the authorities have refused to permit.

The court ruled that Ustinov was among activists who resisted when police detained him during an Aug. 3 rally in the Moscow city centre. It said he injured the policeman by dislocating his shoulder, according to the verdict.

Ustinov denied having taken part in the protest. He said he showed up at the rally by accident and was waiting for a friend near a metro station when he was approached by police. He also denied injuring anyone.

Ustinov’s sister Yulia earlier told Russian media outlet Meduza that he was not interested in politics and himself served as a conscript in the Russian police forces before quitting less than a year ago.

Ustinov studied acting and has played small roles in Russian films.

The authorities’ refusal to register opposition candidates on technical grounds triggered the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013, with up to 60,000 people rallying at one point.

Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, lost a third of its seats in the Moscow city assembly this month in an awkward setback for the Kremlin, although it retained its majority.

Reporting by Evgenia Novozhenina and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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