MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow judge on Wednesday convicted a local opposition politician of multiple protest violations and imposed a two-year suspended sentence in a case seen by many as politically motivated.
Yulia Galyamina, 47, was found guilty of repeatedly violating Russia’s strict protest regulations — a criminal charge since 2014. The court said she organized rallies, during which participants “called for unlawful actions, created threats to… the health of the citizens, interfered with pedestrians and transport.”
Galyamina, who serves as a municipal council member in Moscow, has said she was being persecuted for her political activities.
This summer, she actively campaigned against the constitutional reform that allows President Vladimir Putin to stay in power after his current term expires in 2024. In 2019, Moscow election officials barred Galyamina and a number of other opposition politicians from running for the Moscow City Council in a move that sparked a wave of mass protests.
“(I’m) on trial because people follow me — my voters, participants of our educational projects, local leaders and local politicians,” Galyamina said in a video statement released right before the court hearing Wednesday.
Last week, the prosecution asked the court to convict Galyamina to three years in prison. But on Wednesday she walked free, cheered by a large crowd of supporters who gathered in front of the courthouse. An online petition demanding that authorities drop the charges against the politician has collected over 150,000 signatures.
“Thanks everyone! You are amazing!” Galyamina wrote on Facebook after the verdict.
Galyamina is one of several opposition activists prosecuted under a law allowing to press criminal charges and imprison anyone who was repeatedly caught taking part in unauthorized protests. It was adopted in 2014 and was seen as the Kremlin’s knee-jerk reaction to the uprising in Ukraine and regular anti-government rallies in Moscow.