Legal Case of the Week: Roman Roslovtsev

posted 20 May 2016, 10:45 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 May 2016, 10:49 ]
On 16 May 2016 activist Roman Roslovtsev was jailed for 20 days by Tver district court in Moscow for taking a walk in a mask depicting President Putin and wearing a T-shirt stating 'I’m not afraid of Article 212.1.' The judge ruled that this constituted a violation of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code, concerning the procedure for organizing or holding rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets. This is despite the fact that single-person pickets do not need official approval. Furthermore, the court ordered that the mask be destroyed. On the basis of the new Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (introduced in July 2014), he could now face prosecution for 'repeated' violations of the laws regulating public assembly and be sent to prison for up to 5 years. Halya Coynash, writing on Human Rights in Ukraine, has reported that this is the fourth time in six months that Roslovtsev has challenged the draconian laws on public assembly. On previous occasions Roslovtsev held a placard with the words 'I’m not afraid of Article 212.1.' In April 2016 the same court fined Roslovtsev 30,000 roubles for two previous walks wearing a similar mask, and ordered that the mask be destroyed. When Roslovtsev was detained on 14 May, according to reports this was the tenth time he had taken this action. As Halya Coynash points out, 'Roslovtsev obviously denies any "wrongdoing," and points out that he is simply exercising his constitutional rights and freedoms.' She notes: 'Article 212.1 breaches Russia’s Constitution and legislation, as well as international law for a number of reasons. It imposes double punishment for the same actions, first via administrative legislation, then criminal. The criminal charges can carry a term of imprisonment of from 3 to 5 years despite the fact that the supposed ‘offences’ are of a formal nature and do not present any danger to the public. As can be seen with the administrative protocols against Roslovtsev, there are effectively no grounds, yet the Tverskoy Court has imposed huge fines and now jailed him. The next step, according to the measure aimed at crushing peaceful protest altogether, is criminal prosecution.' 


Мумин Шакиров, 'Десять масок Путина,' Radio Svoboda, 14 May 2016
Halya Coynash, 'Russian Activist Jailed & Could Face 5-year Sentence for Wearing a Putin Mask,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 17 May 2016
'Возвращение маски Путина,', 7 April 2016