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Moscow Police Free Prisoner Who Looked Nothing Like Suspect, But That's Not Why

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Though he looks nothing like the man identified in photographs and police sketches, Sergei Akhmetov spent eight months in jail for supposedly attacking a law enforcement officer. He was arrested in November 2015 for allegedly grabbing a cop by the shoulders at a demonstration outside the Kremlin in July 2013 in support of oppositionist Alexei Navalny.

Akhmetov says he wasn’t even in Moscow on the day of the protest, and remarkably he looks nothing like the man pictured in the evidence brought by police and state prosecutors. The government’s only other incriminating evidence was that Akhmetov indicated on Facebook that he planned to attend the rally.

Translation: The case against St. Petersburg architect Sergei Akhmetov is closed.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the state unexpectedly freed Akhmetov, closing his case. Officials issued no apology, however, and instead merely reclassified the charges from attacking a police officer to insulting a state official — a crime for which the statute of limitations has already expired.

Akhmetov’s supporters have expressed outrage that the government refuses to apologize for its apparent mistake, though activists have welcomed the prisoner’s release.

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