City officials in Moscow have threatened to prosecute demonstrators planning a rally in support of political prisoner Ildar Dadin, denying the group a permit for the protest. While Russian officials routinely refuse to allow opposition groups to hold public demonstrations, this rejection is raising eyebrows because of the sweeping logic offered by city authorities.
According to a letter from Moscow's Prefecture, the actions of Russia's judicial system are inherently legal, invalidating any claims that Dadin is an unjustly incarcerated political prisoner, and thereby making it illegal to demonstrate in public using such slogans, insofar as Russian laws on public assemblies forbid demonstrations that use slogans that “fail to comply with the Russian Constitution.”
In other words, the city of Moscow told Dadin's supporters that they could be arrested for stepping outside and holding up posters accusing Russia's judicial system of breaking the law.
“The justice system only works within certain protocols,” the Moscow Prefecture explained. “These create conditions in which the truth can be properly established, and in which people can receive a fair decision.”
The letter was shared on Twitter by the activist news outlet Open Russia.
The group slammed the decision, writing facetiously, “The protest in support of Dadin has been cancelled because the decision of the Russian courts is always fair, and only enemies [of the people] would dispute it.”
Ildar Dadin is the first person in Russia to be convicted of violating a new draconian law criminalizing repeated peaceful demonstrations carried out without formal permits. In 2015, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.
Dadin was transferred to a penitentiary in the Karelian town of Segezh in September 2016, where he later claimed to be the victim of systematic torture at the hands of prison staff. Officials reviewed his case and said they found no evidence that he'd been beaten, though he was later transferred for another facility, reportedly for safety reasons.