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Almost 40% of Russians Call Moscow Protest Convictions 'Politically Motivated' – Poll

AP / TASS

Nearly 40% of Russians believe that the recent criminal convictions of more than a dozen people over this summer’s Moscow protests were politically motivated, according to new independent polling.

The Sept. 8 local and regional elections were among the most remembered events of the past month, according to the independent Levada Center pollster. Five of the 17 people held in jail have been sentenced to prison terms ranging between two and three and a half years on charges of mass unrest and violence against police, while one was sentenced to five years for a tweet.

Thirty-eight percent of Russian respondents said courts had handed down politically motivated sentences to protesters and bystanders in the so-called “Moscow Case,” according to Levada’s results published Wednesday.

Another 24% said the sentences were fair, while 28% had no knowledge of the court cases.

Around half (53%) of Levada’s respondents called last month’s elections fair, with 35% saying they were unfair. Half of respondents (50%) said they were satisfied and 30% said they were dissatisfied with the results.

The pro-Putin United Russia party lost one-third of its seats in the Moscow city legislature while retaining its majority, a result the opposition attributes to its tactical voting strategy. Several opposition candidates had been barred from running in the Sept. 8 elections, sparking the biggest wave of anti-government protests in nearly a decade. Thousands were detained, at times violently, during unauthorized demonstrations.

The Human Rights Watch NGO called the mass-unrest and police-assault charges against 17 activists excessive and groundless.

Levada conducted the poll among 1,601 respondents in 50 Russian regions on Sept. 26-Oct. 2.

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