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Court Releases Bolotnaya 'Traitor' on Parole

Published: April 25, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • Opposition activists Alexei Gaskarov and Ilya Guschin standing behind bars in a court room before the hearings.
    Photo: Pavel Golovkin / AP

A Moscow court on Thursday released Russian opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev on parole before the end of his 2 ½ year sentence.

The Lefortovo Court made the ruling after deciding that an appeal for parole by Lebedev's lawyers was legally grounded, judge Margarita Kotova said, Itar-Tass reported.

Lebedev, along with activists Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev of the Left Front political coalition, and Georgian politician Givi Targamadze, were charged in absentia for masterminding what the Kremlin says were "riots" on Moscow's Bolotnaya Ploshchad on May 6, 2012, the day before Vladimir Putin was sworn in his third term as Russian president.

Lebedev, who took a plea agreement with the prosecution, testified against Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev in March, saying that organizers of the protest had received more than $150,000 from their supporters.

Lebedev testified that some of these funds had arrived through Targamadze, who was based in Lithuania, giving credence to the Kremlin's claims that Western and pro-Western governments had orchestrated the protest.

Some protesters have accused Lebedev of being a "traitor" for having made the plea agreement, while others have dismissed the accusation.

"I do not think that anybody betrayed anyone in this case because there was no one to betray," Maria Baronova, a fellow Bolotnaya participant who was amnestied in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution in December, told The St. Petersburg Times. "I am not aware whether anyone took any money from the West, but Konstantin Lebedev himself said that he took money from Givi Targamadze."

In April of last year, Lebedev was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison after the plea bargain was arranged. Prosecutors had initially demanded a five-year prison term, which was shortened when Lebedev pleaded guilty to the charges.

On Thursday he told the judge that his days of "dangerous thinking," participating in "riots" and "living off the funds of foreign governments" were in the past, RIA Novosti reported. "From now on I will work honestly," he said.





 


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Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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