Russian Opposition Outraged over Jailed Activist's Rejected Appeal
The Russian opposition has been outraged by a decision of a court in Western Russia to reject a former opposition activist's appeal against an eight-year jail sentence labeled as "harsh" by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Taisiya Osipova, 28, was arrested in 2010 and jailed late last year after police found four grams of heroin at her home in the west Russian city of Smolensk.
Osipova said the drugs were planted on her by officers after she refused to provide them with information on her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, a leading member of the unregistered Other Russia opposition party.
Osipova, a diabetic with a six-year-old daughter, will now be sent to a penal colony, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"We have been led to understand that the rulings on this case were ordered from higher-up," Fomchenkov told RIA Novosti. "My wife is an ill woman and her health will not improve in a penal colony."
He also said witnesses to the discovery of the drugs cited by police were members of pro-Kremlin youth groups.
Osipova was jailed for ten years late last year, but the sentence was overturned on appeal in February after then President Medvedev criticized it and called for a new probe. The court, however, refused to free Osipova on bail.
At her new trial in August, state prosecutors asked the judge to jail Osipova for four years, but she was sentenced instead to eight.
"This again convinces me that our courts are not only unjust, but cruel," said human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov on Wednesday. "It's clear that Taisiya, an ill person with a child, does not deserve such a sentence."
Veteran human rights worker Lyudmila Alekseyeva said Osipova should be freed.
"Neither investigators nor the court have any evidence of her guilt," she said.
Osipova says she has not been involved in political activity since the birth of her daughter almost six years ago.
"This case is clearly connected with the political activities of my client's husband," lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina is quoted as saying.
Unlike the high-profile trial of anti-Putin punks Pussy Riot, there has been little international coverage of Osipova's case. Other Russia party leader, radical writer and politician Eduard Limonov, says Western media outlets have ignored Osipova's plight because of his party's criticism of US foreign policies.
"This is a cruel decision," he said on Wednesday. "It is clearly a case of the political oppression of Other Russia activists."