Defendants in case over illegal referendum to spend up to 4 years in prison
MOSCOW, August 10 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) – The Moscow Tverskoy District Court has sentenced four members of the Initiative Group to Campaign for a Referendum for Responsible Government to terms varying from probation to four years in prison for organizing an extremist group, RAPSI correspondent reported from the courtroom on Thursday.
Earlier today, the court found journalist of the RBC news agency Alexander Sokolov, publicist Yury Mukhin, civil activists Kirill Barabash and Valery Parfyonov guilty. Sokolov was sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony, while Barabash and Parfyonov were sentenced to 4 years in jail. Mukhin received a 4-year suspended term and additional 4 years of probation.
The defendants are indeed members of the Initiative Group to Campaign for a Referendum for Responsible Government, which, the authorities believe, is the successor of earlier banned People’s Will Army (PWA), Mukhin told RAPSI. However, the action group aiming to organize the referendum was established yet in 2010, he said.
Sokolov, Parfyonov, and Barabash are charged with continuing to run the prohibited in 2010 People’s Will Army, earlier headed by Mukhin. After the PWA was banned, the accused founded the Referendum Initiative Group seeking to make the authorities directly answerable to the people through changing the country’s Constitution.
Nevertheless, the prosecution says that in fact Mukhin and his supporters have attempted to destabilize the political situation in Russia and accomplish a regime change with illegal means.
In 1995, Yury Mukhin, a proponent of radical change, founded the Duel newspaper, which attempted to reach out to Russian conservatives and far left. The newspaper was banned in 2009 on grounds of extremism.