Memorial classifies Galperin as political prisoner after a suspended sentence he received for alleged incitement to extremism was replaced by a term in a penal colony
The Memorial Human Rights Centre has once again added opposition activist Mark Galperin to the list of political prisoners. Memorial recognised Galperin as a political prisoner in 2018 when he was held under house arrest during a prosecution for incitement to extremism. On 7 March 2018 he was released from house arrest and given a two-year suspended jail sentence with three years’ probation. Memorial then reclassified Galperin as a victim of unlawful, politically-motivated prosecution. On 4 December Reutov town court changed Galperin’s sentence, sentencing him to 18 months in a low-security prison colony. The Memorial Human Rights Centre has once again added Galperin to the list of political prisoners. We demand his immediate release.
The grounds on which the court changed the suspended sentence to time in a penal colony were violations of administrative law. In recent months Galperin twice served 30-day jail sentences. The first time in 2019 the opposition activist was jailed for calling for people to take part, on 27 July, in a protest that did not have official permission in support of independent candidates in the Moscow City Assembly elections. The second time the activist was jailed for taking part in a march on 31 August protesting against political repression, an event which also did not have official permission.
It is evident that these jail sentences were unlawful since the events in question were of an absolutely peaceful nature. It should be pointed out that the right to freedom of assembly is provided for by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. The fact that the authorities refused to reach agreement with the organisers about the place, time and order of the assemblies does not give grounds to consider their organisation, or participation in them, an offence. Still less is it acceptable to deprive individuals of liberty on this basis. However, Galperin was given an 18-month prison term. The court took into account the time the opposition activist had spent under house arrest.
We believe that the continuous prosecutions of Mark Galperin were related to his pro-active non-violent opposition stance and his criticism of the authorities. We demand his immediate release.
For more information about the case of Mark Galperin, see here.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that the Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.