Varya Mikhaylova and her defendants. Photo courtesy of Ms. Mikhaylova’s Facebook page
Yesterday, after the protest rally, for several hours I made the rounds of different police precincts where detainees had been taken: Lenin Square, Prospekt Bolshevikov, Rybatskoye, and General Khrulov Street. It was night when I got home.
Today, I defended people who were involved in the rally and people who weren’t involved in the rally at the Primorsky District Court. I have just left the court building.
Total legal nihilism prevailed in the court. People were tried not individually, but in bunches. The judge said outright to the defendants that if they refrained from making any appeals she would go easier on them. Many defendants were not allowed to go to the bathroom all day. A police officer ate the food intended for the detainees from the 25th Police Precinct. Most of my defendants were convicted and sent off to jail for four to seven days.
But there were a number of important victories.
- I managed to get one defendant’s charge changed from Article 20.2 Part 8 of the Administrative Offenses Code (“repeated violation”) to Article 20.2 Part 6.1 (“involvement in an unauthorized assembly, rally, demonstration, march or picket”). We were able to convinced the judge there were was nothing in the case file proving the repeated violation charge. Instead of fifteen to thirty days in jail or a fine of 150,000 to 300,000 rubles, he was sentenced to five days in jail.
- The case of another defendant was completely dismissed. However, since I was removed from the hearing, it was hardly my doing. But the defendant thinks it was crucial I told him to tell the judge about his chronic illness.
- The judge wrote in the sentence she handed down to ten guys that the length of their jail terms took effect today, not yesterday, when they were detained, but I convinced her to correct this mistake, and consequently they got back one day of freedom lawfully owed to them.
It went something like that. I wish all of you would go to the court hearings the day after a big protest rally at least once. Your world would never be the same again.
And the detainees are all amazing.
Translated by the Russian Reader