Moscow Protester's Charge Over July 27 Rally Changed Again

MOSCOW -- A charge against Moscow protester Aidar Gubaidullin has been changed for the third time since a criminal case was launched against him for taking part in an unsanctioned rally in July.

Gubaidullin's lawyer, Maksim Pashkov, said on October 15 that his client has now ben charged with threatening to assault a law enforcement officer.

Gubaidullin was arrested on August 9 and initially charged with taking part in mass disorder which, according the Investigative Committee, took place on July 27 during an unsanctioned rally to protest the refusal by election officials to register independent and opposition candidates for September 8 elections to the Moscow city council.

His charge was later changed to the attempted assault of a law enforcement officer with a plastic bottle.

The 25-year-old programmer was released on September 18 amid a public outcry.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center recognized Gubaidullin and several other persons arrested in the case as political prisoners.

Several sanctioned and unsanctioned rallies took place in Moscow over the summer in protest at a decision by authorities to deny independent and opposition candidates the chance to run in the municipal elections.

Dozens of protesters have been fined or given jail sentences for organizing and participating in the unsanctioned rallies.

Law enforcement has been criticized for its heavy-handed tactics during the protests, and the judiciary has since taken a similar hard-line approach.

Five other men were charged with assaulting police and handed stiff sentences. In one case, after a sharp public outcry over the court's approach, one of those convicted had his prison term changed to a suspended sentence.

On October 15, the Investigative Committee said it had detained one more man, Aleksandr Mylnikov, suspected of attacking a law enforcement officer at the July 27 rally.

Four other men were detained on the same charge a day earlier.

With reporting by TASS