Russia: Prisoner of conscience Nikolai Platoshkin’s suspended conviction must be quashed

Responding to the conviction of former diplomat, renowned opposition activist and prisoner of conscience Nikolai Platoshkin on absurd charges of “incitement to commit mass disorder” and “dissemination of false information”, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director Natalya Zviagina, who attended the trial, said:

“Handing Nikolai Platoshkin a five-year suspended sentence is another nail in the coffin for the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Russia. The case was clearly fabricated to prevent him from participating in public life and punish him for daring to criticise Putin’s stranglehold on power. His conviction must be quashed.

“The absurdity of the charges against Nikolay Platoshkin, the speed of his court hearings and a blatant disregard for some basic fair trial guarantees is extraordinary even for the Kafkaesque Russian justice system. The prosecution’s farcical logic, rubber-stamped by the judge, is simple: to express views critical of government policy equals incitement to riots and is a crime.

The absurdity of the charges against Nikolay Platoshkin, the speed of his court hearings and a blatant disregard for some basic fair trial guarantees is extraordinary even for the Kafkaesque Russian justice system
Natalya Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director

“As the parliamentary elections scheduled for September approach, we are seeing harsher reprisals against anyone who expresses critical views of the government or conducts opposition activities. Vladimir Putin’s regime is brazenly jailing and silencing its opponents from across the political spectrum, be it “liberals” like Aleksei Navalny or “socialists” like Nikolai Platoshkin.

“The prosecution of peaceful activists must stop immediately. The Russian authorities must respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights in line with Russia’s international obligations, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

Background

On 19 May, the Gagarinsky District Court of Moscow convicted prisoner of conscience Nikolai Platoshkin, a former diplomat, head of the International Relations and Diplomacy Department at Moscow Humanities University and founder of “For the New Socialism” movement. He was sentenced to a five-year suspended imprisonment and a fine of 700,000 roubles (US$9,500). His conviction means that he is barred from running for elected office.

In June 2020, Nikolai Platoshkin was charged under Article 212 (1.1) (“incitement or other involvement of a person to commit mass disorder”) and Article 207.1 (“public dissemination of knowingly false information about circumstances posing threat to lives and security of citizens “) of the country’s Criminal Code. According to the prosecution, Nikolay Platoshkin intended “to come to power unlawfully” for which “he started to incite his followers and other internet users via his audio-visual materials to “commit mass disorder and participate in it under the disguise of protest rallies.” These accusations are unsubstantiated and politically motivated.