Pending trial, St. Petersburg court releases video blogger charged with felony offense for performing song

Yuri Khovansky, the video blogger charged with the felony offense of “justifying terrorism” because of a song he performed years ago, has been released from pretrial detention after roughly six months behind bars. State investigators in St. Petersburg made the request without any explanation, initially asking the court to wait until January 8 to free him. They later endorsed his immediate release.

David Frenkel / Mediazona

Khovansky is now under court orders that prevent him from using the Internet, leaving home after 6 p.m., communicating with case witnesses (except his parents and girlfriend), attending public events, and coming within 300 meters (985 feet) of the scene of his alleged crime.

Police arrested Yuri Khovansky in June 2021 for singing a song about the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis. Investigators say he performed the song during an online livestream in 2018, but Khovansky says he sang it only once, six years earlier, which would negate the case against him under Russia’s statute of limitations.

In late December, just a few days before his release from remand prison, Khovansky filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights against his arrest. In statements released through his lawyers, he has said repeatedly that officials have threatened him in pretrial detention, warning that he and his girlfriend will face “problems” if he rejects their plea bargain.

More about Khovansky’s case

‘It took only four false witnesses to ruin my life’ In an open letter from jail, blogger Yuri Khovansky shares how investigators are pressuring his loved onesAn unforgettable tune The three witnesses against ‘extremist singer’ Yuri Khovansky used identical language in their testimonies, and two of them appear to be former police officers

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