Moscow's Zamoskvoretksy District Court convicted eight anti-Kremlin protesters on Friday of rioting and violence against police at a protest in 2012. The protestors were arrested [UK Guardian report] the night before Vladimir Putin's inauguration to his third term as president. At the protest in 2012, police cut off access [AP report] to the public square where the rally was to be held. As a result, protesters began throwing bottles and rocks at the police, and the police ended up detaining more than 400 protesters that night. In response, Putin signed into law [JURIST report] a controversial bill that greatly increased the penalty for protesters who violate demonstration regulations. When the court convicted the eight protesters on Friday, the police detained about 200 protesters for attempting to violate public order outside of the courthouse. Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, believes that all eight protesters will receive jail time for their convictions. Nemtsov said that the trial was politically motivated.
Russia has cracked down on dissent recently. In November a Moscow court ruled that the Russian government could seize the assets of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Putin, after Navalny was charged with money laundering and theft.In October a Russian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Navalny's embezzlement conviction but suspended his five-year jail sentence, allowing him to walk free. In June the UN released a letter from human rights experts voicing their concern [JURIST report] that two Russian non-governmental organizations have been charged by Russian prosecutors following their involvement with the UN Committee against Torture. In May a Russian court rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot [JURIST news archive] against their sentence for a protest against Putin.