Russian Sentenced To Four Years In Prison For Repeatedly Taking Part In Unsanctioned Protests

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow hassentenced a protester to four years in prison for repeatedly participating in unauthorized rallies.

The Tver district court ruled on September 5 that Konstantin Kotov "disregarded basic constitutional principles" because he kept taking part in unsanctioned protests after being found guilty of violating legislation on public gatherings.

"I did not and do not admit guilt. I believe that taking part in peaceful demonstrations is not a crime," the activist said in court, according to independent media outlet Mediazona.

The 34-year-old computer programmer was sentenced under a controversial law that criminalizes participation in more than one unsanctioned protest within a 180-day period.

Kotov was detained on August 10 for taking part in a rally that demanded the local election commission register opposition and independent candidates on the ballot in upcoming municipal elections.

The activist had been arrested and fined several times since March for participating in Moscow protests.

Four other protesters were sentenced this week to jail terms ranging from two to 3½ years in connection with a wave of demonstrations that has brought tens of thousands of Russians onto the streets of Moscow.

Police violently dispersed several of the rallies and detained more than 2,000 people, drawing international condemnation.

The Moscow City Duma elections are due to be held on September 8.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP