Mikhail Kosenko had an ordinary life. He spent a lot of time in libraries and bookshops. His sister describes him as an intelligent, well-informed person.
Then one day, he decided to peacefully and publicly express his opinion. Against President Vladimir Putin.
In Russia, such opinions are not welcome. They are violently discouraged.
Mikhail’s freedom was snatched away by Russian authorities after he attended the May 2012 Bolotnaya Square anti-Putin protest. For taking part in the protest, Mikhail was beaten, jailed, drugged, and sentenced to psychiatric treatment.
Amnesty observers attended multiple court hearings on Kosenko’s case. The judge refused to allow an independent examination of Mikhail’s mental health. Mikhail’s family says he suffers from depression, but poses no danger to society.
The court’s decision means that Mikhail may be deprived of his freedom indefinitely. This absurdly severe punishment is the norm for political dissidents in Russia.
Despite the December release of high profile prisoners of conscience, dissent is still not tolerated in Russia.
The absurdly harsh punishment of Bolotnaya Square protester Mikhail Kosenko marks an abhorrent return to Soviet-era practices used to silence dissent.
Draconian homophobic laws, bans on unauthorized public gatherings, and ominously cruel punishments of peaceful activism show how imperiled human rights have become in Russia.
Don’t be fooled by President Putin’s release of Pussy Riot members and other prisoners of conscience.
Repression of expression is the norm. Homophobia grows.
- ACTIVISTS JAILED – 5,000 people have been detained in Russia for “crimes” like expressing their political views
- PUBLIC GATHERINGS BROKEN UP – In June 2012, a mass pillow fight in St. Petersburg was dispersed by police for being an “unauthorized gathering”
- GAY RIGHTS CURTAILED – Moscow LGBTI individuals are under threat of arrest for “propaganda of homosexuality.” Since June 2013, authorities have arrested peaceful protesters for “promoting” same sex relationships and have failed to prosecute vigilante groups that support violence and intolerance towards those in the LGBTI community.
Putin’s prisoner amnesty seems to indicate that he cares deeply about bad publicity. So let’s generate some more.