MOSCOW Russia has released anti-Kremlin activist Ildar Dadin from a Siberian prison, freeing the first person jailed under new rules that made some forms of non-violent protest a criminal offence, his lawyer told Reuters on Sunday.
Dadin’s release had been expected after the Supreme Court had overturned his conviction on Wednesday.
He was originally sentenced in December 2015 to three years in jail — later reduced on appeal to two and a half years — for staging a series of peaceful, one-man protests against Kremlin rule.
Conducting protests without official permission was previously punishable by a fine. But rules adopted after mass protests in Moscow that followed President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 election made it a criminal offence, punishable with jail term, to stage the protests more than twice in 180 days.
Dadin alleged that he was subjected to physical torture by prison staff while in a penal colony in northwest Russia – an allegation that officials denied. He became a cause celebre among Kremlin opponents who say their right to dissent is being steadily crushed.
Lawyer Ksenya Kostromina said Dadin’s release had been delayed until Sunday because it took several days for the Siberian jail to receive his documents from the court due to a combination of bureaucracy, a public holiday and the weekend.
The lawyer said she had been informed of Dadin’s release in a phone call from his wife, Anastasia Zotova, and had not seen him yet. “According to pictures of him, he looks good,” Kostromina added.
Russian Constitutional Court had on Feb. 10 ordered a review of Dadin’s conviction, arguing that the law criminalising certain types of protests had to be applied more proportionately. That was followed by the Supreme Court decision last week.
(Reporting by Svetlana Reiter; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Keith Weir)