Vladimir Akimenkov free in Russia
GREAT NEWS! Vladimir Akimenkov, one of the "Bolotnaya Three" detainees featured in Amnesty International's global campaign Write for Rights has been set free.
Amnesty members welcome this news, following a tremendous letter-writing campaign that extended across 80 countries. Also released as part of this general amnesty in Russia are two people who Amnesty had declared as "prisoners of conscience" (people held solely for their political beliefs): Leonid Koviazin and Nikolay Kavkazskii.
Vladimir is referred to as one of the "Bolotnaya Three" because it was in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square that he along with Artiom Saviolov and Mikhail Kosenko were detained during an authorized protest on 6 May 2012.
Authorities soon released the Bolotnaya Three, but rearrested them in June 2012. They had been in custody ever since and their imprisonment has badly affected their health. They were charged with participating in “mass riots”. Both Artiom Saviolov and Mikhail Kosenko are also accused of using force against police officers. All three firmly deny the charges. They also deny acting violently or in a disorderly fashion. Video footage supports their claims. Police statements made against Vladimir Akimenkov and Artiom Savelov during the investigation differ from what was later said in court.
Amnesty International considered all three men are prisoners of conscience.
• Vladimir Akimenkov may have been held only because of his prior political activism
• The Bolotnaya Square protest was the first time Artiom Saviolov had ever gone to a demonstration. He is accused of breaking through the police line and shouting “Down with the police state!” – something that he explained would not be possible because of his stutter
• Mikhail Kosenko is accused of severely beating a police officer. He remains in custody even though another man has been convicted of the beating and even though the officer later said that he had never seen Mikhail Kosenko before