Sat, 16 Nov 2019

Russian Activists Tie The Knot In Moscow Jail

RFE
18 Oct 2019, 00:45 GMT+10

MOSCOW -- Love has scored a victory where justice failed after two Russian activists involved in separate, high-profile cases and whose arrests caused a public outcry, married in an infamous Moscow jail.

Anna Pavlikova, who is on trial for her alleged participation in the activities of an extremist group that seeks to oust President Vladimir Putin, and Konstantin Kotov, who was sentenced to 4 years in prison for participating in several unsanctioned rallies in the Russian capital, officially married in the Matrosskaya Tishina jail on October 17.

Dressed in a long white wedding gown with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a ring box in the other, Pavlikova, a member of the New Greatness Moscow youth activist group, emerged from the holding center after a brief ceremony where she wed Kotov, who is being held in the jail as he awaits transfer to a penal colony.

'It isn't important to her how long he will be in custody, even if it is four years, she will wait for him,' Pavlikova's mother Yulia said outside the detention center.

'Sometimes one suffers in order to have moments of happiness. They love each other, they want to be together. I can only be happy for them.'

Pavlikova was 17 when she was arrested with other members of the group in March 2018. Her arrest sparked protests in Moscow and several other cities, after which she was transferred to house arrest.

The accused group's members say they turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement after the move was proposed by one of their members.

Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings, was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Kotov is one of several people prosecuted for election-related protests in Moscow this summer, and his September conviction for repeatedly taking part in unauthorized rallies prompted fresh demonstrations in the Russian capital calling for his release.

The 34-year-old computer programmer was sentenced under a controversial law that criminalizes participation in more than one unsanctioned protest within a 180-day period.

Kotov has maintained his innocence, saying he has a constitutional right to openly and publicly express his opinions.

The couple's friends and relatives have said that Kotov and Pavlikova were acquainted earlier, and Kotov had supported Pavlikova and her family during her arrest.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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