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World News

Russia jails anti-Kremlin activist over Putin mannequin stunt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced an anti-Kremlin activist to two years in prison for displaying a life-size mannequin of President Vladimir Putin in a striped prison jumpsuit on a street in the city of Perm.

The court found Alexander Shabarchin, a political activist in Perm, some 1,150 kilometres (715 miles) east of Moscow, guilty of hooliganism, a charge he denied.

The incident in 2018 involved a mannequin with a cardboard Putin mask wearing a white plastic jumpsuit with black stripes. It bore the words “war criminal” on its chest and “liar” on its forehead, social media pictures showed.

Political activists and human rights advocates said Shabarchin’s jail sentence was a violation of his freedom of speech and a sign of growing state repression.

“It has been made clear: you can only say good things about Putin, nothing else. Laughing at him is also forbidden,” said Sergei Ukhov, a Perm activist who supports opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Another defendant in the case, Danil Vasilyev, received one year of probation and Alexander Etkin, a third defendant, was acquitted, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Leninsky District Court in Perm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia last year adopted legislation introducing fines for people found to have insulted the authorities or spread fake news online. Rights groups said the law amounted to censorship.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Gareth Jones

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