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Rostov-on-Don student Yan Sidorov, charged with attempting to organise riots, is a political prisoner, Memorial says


We call for his immediate release. 

Yan Sidorov, an 18-year-old student, has been charged with attempting to organise riots, an offence under Article 30 (section 3) and Article 212 (section 1) of the Russian Criminal Code, for which the penalty is up to 11 years and three months’ deprivation of liberty, and attempting to take part in riots, an offence under Article 30 (section 3) and Article 212 (section 2), for which the penalty is up to six years’ deprivation of liberty.

Sidorov has formally been held on remand since 10 November 2017. However, in real terms he has been behind bars since 5 November 2017 when he was detained on Ploshchad Sovetov, opposite the Rostov Region government building, where he was trying to organise a picket, and for which he was sentenced to a short jail term under administrative law.

The charges against Sidorov and the other defendants in the case — Vladislav Mordasov and Vyacheslav Shamshin — amount to the allegations that on 5 November 2017 they «actively sought to engage persons present in a protest action by means of the public demonstration of agitational materials, to draw together a crowd, and also to commit provocative actions in relation to police officers attempting to detain the said participants in the disorder and by that means trying to begin the said disorder." In other words, they tried to hold a picket. At the same time, there are grounds to believe that only Sidorov and Mordasov knew each other, while Shamshin was forcibly brought to the place of the attempted picket by officers from the Centre for Combating Extremism, where they formally arrested him.

Analysis of the materials of the criminal case to which we have access allows us to state with certainty that Yan Sidorov and other defendants are innocent. The investigative officers cannot provide any material evidence that those accused actually tried to organise riots, or even plan them.

The version of the alleged offences set out by the investigative officers seems to us unlikely. All Sidorov’s testimony, on the contrary, is realistic, logical and coherent. He consistently asserts that he planned to hold a peaceful protest that had no relation to Artpodgotovka or Vyacheslav Maltsev and that he opposes the use of violence for political ends. On this basis, it seems much more likely that the two young people had planned to hold a picket and not to organise a riot or to try to overthrow the regional government. They were without weapons and merely held up placards that were not extremist in nature («Return the land to the Rostov residents who lost their properties in the fire» and «The government must resign»), distributed leaflets and spoke over megaphones, having spent 3,500 roubles on the event.
The official investigation fails to explain why, if Sidorov and Mordasov allegedly committed not even the «preparation» of the organisation of riots, but only an «attempt» to organise them, there was no evidence that these riots might begin. The notion that riots could begin as a result of the holding of an ordinary picket with quite ordinary demands is absurd. On that basis, an intention of this kind could be ascribed to any participant in any picket, including one that had official permission and was not taking place on 5 November 2017 but on any other day. There is no evidence that the alleged plan was realisable or had any objective basis.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Yan Sidorov a political prisoner and calls for his immediate release.

At the present time we are not able to examine the materials of the cases against Vladislav Mordasov and Vyacheslav Shamshin. However, we plan to follow the course of their prosecutions and consider it highly likely that the charges against them have been fabricated.
We demand that the public officials guilty of violating the rights and freedoms of those participants in public events and accidental passers-by detained on 5 November 2017 be brought to justice.

Memorial Human Rights Centre continues to monitor the campaign of prosecutions with regard to those charged with preparing the «Revolution 5/11/17." This campaign, which began in the autumn of 2017, has resulted in criminal charges being brought against dozens of persons, including charges of terrorism and of preparing riots. It is probable that a significant number of those charged are either innocent or have no relation whatsoever to Maltsev or Artpodgotovka, a group banned in Russia.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

You can read more about this case here.

PayPal — an e-wallet for giving help to all Russian political prisoners [email protected].

Программа: Поддержка политзэков

Сидоров Ян Владимирович родился 9 октября 1999 года, жил в городе Ростов-на-Дону, студент III курса колледжа филиала РАНХиГС, направление «Экономика и бухгалтерский учёт».