Russian student given suspended sentence for protest calls

MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court yesterday handed a suspended sentence to a student vlogger on charges — widely seen as politically motivated — of inciting protests.

Yegor Zhukov, 21, was arrested in August on accusations of making extremist calls on his YouTube vlog. He is among several dozen people who faced charges for their role in the past summer’s protests in Moscow.

Moscow’s Kuntsevo District Court gave Zhukov a three-year suspended sentence and banned him from administering websites for two years. Prosecutors had asked for a four-year prison sentence.

A series of protests in Moscow were sparked by the authorities’ refusal to register a dozen opposition and independent candidates for September’s city council vote. They attracted crowds of up to 60,000, the largest show of discontent against President Vladimir Putin’s rule in seven years.

Zhukov’s case has provoked outrage because it is widely seen as authorities’ attempt to intimidate the opposition. His lawyers stressed that he emphatically called for peaceful protests and yet was accused of extremism.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters outside the court building, Zhukov thanked them for championing his case.

“It’s your victory,” he said.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, wouldn’t comment on the verdict. He said that the Kremlin is monitoring the public reaction to the trials stemming from Moscow protests, but said the scope of it shouldn’t be exaggerated.

“We aren’t turning a blind eye to that, but we don’t feel inclined to overestimate it,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Several people have been handed prison terms on charges related to the protests.