Moscow police have detained students picketing in support of a schoolmate who faces a maximum prison sentence of eight years after taking part in recent opposition demonstrations that have rocked the capital.
Yegor Zhukov, a student at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE), is among 10 people detained on suspicion of “organizing and conducting mass riots” during an opposition rally on July 27. He and six others have been placed in pre-trial custody until Sept. 27 as a Moscow court continued to consider the cases of the remaining three protesters into Monday.
At least three picketers were detained outside Moscow’s police headquarters, placed in marked vehicles and driven off, a livestream of the event published Monday shows.
The head of Zhukov’s support group had said they intended to stage the pickets indefinitely for 10 hours straight each day.
Authorities suspect Zhukov of “gesturing” to direct the crowd’s movements during the July 27 protest.
That day, police detained, then released, more than 1,300 people marching through central Moscow in support of allowing opposition-minded candidates on the ballot for the upcoming Moscow City Duma elections. Monitoring groups said over 1,000 demonstrators were detained last Saturday, Aug. 3, and supporters plan to take to the streets again this weekend with demands to register their candidates.
Zhukov, 21, runs a political YouTube blog with more than 110,000 subscribers where he discusses protesting and other nonviolent ways of showing opposition. The student-run online news outlet The Vyshka has dubbed Zhukov “the HSE’s first political prisoner.”
In a statement on social media, the HSE has said it plans to assist Zhukov with “with all the necessary legal support.” His fellow students have started a campaign to raise funds for his legal defense, raising more than 1 million rubles ($15,000) so far.