MOSCOW - Russia has released anti-Kremlin activist Ildar Dadin from a Siberian prison, freeing the first person jailed under new rules that made some forms of nonviolent protest a criminal offence, his lawyer told Reuters Sunday.
Dadin’s release had been expected after the Supreme Court had overturned his conviction Wednesday.
No protests without permission
He was originally sentenced in December 2015 to three years in jail, later reduced on appeal to two and a half years, for staging a series of peaceful, one-man protests against Kremlin rule.
Conducting protests without official permission was previously punishable by a fine. But rules adopted after mass protests in Moscow that followed President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 election made it a criminal offense, punishable with jail term, to stage the protests more than twice in 180 days.
Dadin alleged that he was subjected to physical torture by prison staff while in a penal colony in northwest Russia, an allegation that officials denied. He became a cause célèbre among Kremlin opponents who say their right to dissent is steadily being crushed.
Lawyer Ksenya Kostromina said Dadin’s release had been delayed until Sunday because it took several days for the Siberian jail to receive his documents from the court because of a combination of bureaucracy, a public holiday and the weekend.
The lawyer said she had been informed of Dadin’s release in a phone call from his wife, Anastasia Zotova, and had not seen him yet.
“According to pictures of him, he looks good,” Kostromina added.
Russian Constitutional Court on February 10 ordered a review of Dadin’s conviction, arguing that the law criminalizing certain types of protests had to be applied more proportionately. That was followed by the Supreme Court decision last week.