Konstantin Lakeev, 18, has been sentenced to almost three years in prison for kicking an FSB car three times at a rally in support of Navalny in Moscow
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Konstantin Lakeev a political prisoner. He has been prosecuted for exercising the right of freedom of assembly. The sentence is clearly disproportionate to the actions with which he was charged and contradicts judicial practice.
We demand the release of Konstantin Lakeev.
On 23 January 2021 Konstantin Lakeev, aged 18, took part in a rally in Moscow in protest against the jailing of Aleksei Navalny. On Tsvetnoi Boulevard protesters threw snowballs at a car with a flashing light and official number plates in the AMR series. Several people kicked the car.
On 26 January 2021, Lakeev was arrested. The next day the Investigative Committee published a video, in which the young man admitted that he threw snow at the car and ‘kicked it several times.’
On 8 December 2021 Tverskoi district court in Moscow sentenced Konstantin Lakeev to two years and eight months in a penal colony for ‘intentional damage to property’ (Article 167, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). The court also ordered Lakeev to pay 337,000 roubles in damages to the FSB.
The incident occurred during the unlawful dispersal of a protest rally. The authorities grossly violated the right of citizens to peaceful assembly and all demonstrators risked being unlawfully arrested and assaulted. It is clear that the blows struck against the FSB vehicle were provoked by the preceding violence on the part of the authorities, which is, in our view, a mitigating circumstance in evaluating the protesters’ actions.
Law enforcement officials’ evaluations of actions at the protests are uneven. According to OVD-Info, on 23 January 2021 law enforcement officers injured at least 64 demonstrators across Russia. However, not a single criminal investigation was opened against law enforcement officers. Only protesters have been prosecuted.
From the video studied by Memorial it can be seen that Lakeev kicked the headlight of the car three times, but the car’s headlights were not broken and continued to work.
The variation in enforcement of articles of the Russian Criminal Code between ‘political’ and other cases has been repeatedly noted. In ‘non-political’ cases, courts usually impose considerably milder sentences, limited to fines or suspended sentences. Usually, for the offence of which Konstantin Lakeev has been convicted, under Article 167, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code, courts hand down suspended sentences.
Without in any way condoning damage to the property of law enforcement bodies, we nevertheless consider the punishment given to Konstantin Lakeev is disproportionate to a high degree in relation to the public danger represented by his actions. We are certain that the cruel sentence handed down to the young man is intended to intimidate all critics of the Russian authorities.
More information about this case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre is available on our website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
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