His case has become arguably one of the best known among the dozens of prisoners arrested on criminal charges during Moscow’s chaotic summer of election protests. Now freed from prison, Pavel Ustinov, a 23-year-old Russian actor, told Current Time that he intends to take to the streets to rally for the freedom of other protest prisoners.
Following a widespread public outcry, including by other actors, the Moscow City Court slashed Ustinov’s prison sentence on September 30 from three and a half years to a one-year suspended sentence. Ustinov, still charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, maintains that he has nothing for which to apologize and has stated he will continue to fight the case until he is fully acquitted.
Supporters maintain that his story demonstrates that Russian civil society can have an impact in correcting injustices.
Ustinov, a former National Guard conscript, was detained and charged with allegedly attacking a member of the National Guard during an unsanctioned July 27 protest in the Russian capital for the more equitable registration of candidates in elections to the Moscow city council. The actor countered that he had not been taking part in the protest and was simply standing near a subway entrance when detained.
Around 20 people have been charged with various criminal code infractions out of an estimated few thousand detained in more than a month of unsanctioned protests in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. Out of this number, several of those charged under the so-called “Moscow Case” involving the July 27 protest have been released.