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Shevchuk Campaigns For Inmates' Families

ST. PETERSBURG — Rock singer Yury Shevchuk is meeting with the children of political prisoners in a project designed to draw attention to those he believes were put in jail for their beliefs.

Guzel and Alina Sokolov, the wife and daughter of imprisoned Yekaterinburg rights defender Alexei Sokolov, visited Shevchuk in the studio of his group DDT in St. Petersburg earlier this month.

Shevchuk signed a book for Sokolov, expressing hope that he and other political prisoners would soon be released.

Sokolov, a rights activist who has campaigned against alleged torture and corruption in law enforcement agencies, was jailed for five years in May 2010 on charges of theft and robbery.

Amnesty International has said it believes that Sokolov may be a prisoner of conscience.

The Children of Contemporary Russia’s Political Prisoners charity was started by Maxim Gromov, the chair of the Union of Prisoners rights organization, with the goal of supporting people who have been imprisoned for defending civic, political and constitutional rights and freedoms.

The daughter of Taisia Osipova, an activist with The Other Russia opposition group, and the grandchildren of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, businessmen jailed on charges that opposition groups say were politically motivated, will feature in the groups’ future campaigns.

Shevchuk also spoke up for two imprisoned members of the Voina art group currently in pretrial detention in St. Petersburg for flipping over police cars.

In a video uploaded on YouTube, Shevchuk described the art group as “young, reckless anarchist artists.”

“The guys look for sore points in society,” he said. “They take philistines by the scruff of the neck and shove their face into their own reflection.”

Last month, the Moskovsky District Court refused to release artists Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev on bail despite an offer of four million rubles ($135,000) by British graffiti artist Banksy, on the grounds that it was unclear who was offering to put up the money.

Vorotnikov and Nikolayev have been in custody since Nov. 15 last year, when they were arrested in Moscow.

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