Russia: Conviction against activist released from psychiatric unit must be overturned

The conviction against a peaceful Russian activist who was released from a closed psychiatric institution today must be overturned, Amnesty International said.

Mikhail Kosenko was arrested after he took part in a protest in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 and placed in custody a month later.

“Mikhail Kosenko’s participation in the demonstration at Bolotnaya, and false accusations that he used violence, have been used as evidence against him which led to his incarceration. Kosenko’s only ‘crime’ was publicly expressing his believes. This is reminiscent of the Soviet-era tactics when the authorities used psychiatric treatment to silence dissenting voices,” said Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

“The fact that Mikhail Kosenko’s conviction has not been overturned means he could be locked up again for any transgression, real or fabricated.”

Amnesty International believes there were no grounds for charging or prosecuting Mikhail Kosenko for taking part in “mass riots” and using violence against police officers. The accusations, and the ensuing investigation and court hearing, were politically motivated.

He was a peaceful protestor and Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.

During the hearing, the judge refused to consider some of the strong evidence in Kosenko’s favour and dismissed the rest as unreliable.

In March 2014, Moscow City Court upheld the conviction and sentenced Kosenko to compulsory psychiatric treatment in a closed institution for an indefinite period.