Moscow: prison sentences for demonstrators
In Moscow several demonstrators have been handed down multi-year prison sentences. According to Russian news agencies one man was given a three-year prison sentence for pepper-spraying police, and a blogger has been sentenced to five years in a penal camp. Commentators criticise the sentences as unreasonably harsh.
The only goal is deterrence
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticises the sentences as unreasonably harsh:
“These trials were not about finding the truth and punishing crimes, but about deterring participation in peaceful demonstrations. The accusations are designed to strike anyone who does not get out of the security forces' way on time during a protest march - in other words, anyone who dares to attend. The growing severity of the repression, against both normal demonstrators and the leaders of the opposition, is a sign of how nervous the Putin regime is.”
State arbitrariness leads to vigilante justice
The disproportionately harsh sentences for the demonstrators could drive the citizens to take the law into their own hands, Echo of Moscow fears:
“What can such judgements do but provoke anger? And anger creates bitterness. Some may vent their bitterness in the form of mere curses. But the more temperamental may well start hatching violent plans. When people realise that there is no administration of justice and that the innocent can become random victims, they may turn into Robin Hoods. And that means assuming the role of the judiciary themselves and starting to judge and punish at their own discretion.”