More COVID Protesters From Russia’s North Ossetia Receive Prison Terms

Riot police confront participants in the April 2020 rally protesting coronavirus measures in Vladikavkaz.  

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — A Russian court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to a second group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia for taking part in a massive rally in April 2020 to protest against coronavirus restrictions.

The Lenin district court on July 29 found Artur Dzhavadyan guilty of attacking a police officer and sentenced him to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Four other defendants, Arsen Brikhov, Khetag Samov, Georgy Khugayev, and Atsamaz Tebloyev, were convicted of taking part in mass disorder and sentenced to prison terms of between four years, nine months, and 5 1/2 years in prison.

Two days earlier, five other men who took part in the massive rally against coronavirus restrictions in North Ossetia were handed prison sentences of between five years and 5 1/2 years.

On April 20 last year, police in North Ossetia detained dozens of protesters when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, demanding the resignation of regional leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

The rally lasted for several hours until police violently dispersed it. Thirty-seven participants were charged with taking part in mass disorder, assaulting law enforcement, or disobedience to police.

Court decisions are still expected to come on others involved in the protests.

The protest was initiated online via social networks by North Ossetian opera singer Vadim Cheldiyev, who permanently resides in St. Petersburg.

Cheldiyev was detained in St. Petersburg after the rally in Vladikavkaz and brought to North Ossetia, where he was charged with spreading fake news about the coronavirus and assaulting police, which he vehemently denies.

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