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Russia highest court releases political activist

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation [official website] annulled the 2.5 year prison sentence [RAPSI report] of Ildar Dadin, who was the first person to be convicted under a relatively new anti-protest law. Dadin was imprisoned in 2015 under a law that allows the Russian government to press criminal charges against anyone who was caught taking part in a series of unsanctioned protests. According to case files, Dadin was arrested five times during rallies held between August 2014 and January 2015. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe [official website] welcomed the news of the court's decision and urged the Russian government [official statement] to change their laws concerning freedom of assembly.

Russia's human rights record and the status of their prison system has been the subject of widespread international criticism. Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay more than 63,000 euros for arresting Alexander Navalny multiple times [JURIST report] between March 2012 and February 2014. The court held that Russia repeatedly and unjustifiably violated Navalny's right to freedom of peaceful assembly under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In January the US sanctioned [JURIST report] five Russian officials for human rights abuses in association with the death of a lawyer in prison. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced [JURIST report] in November that Russia would leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), expressing disdain over the ICC's investigation into potential human rights abuses by Russian forces in South Ossetia in 2008. In May 2015 Russian President Vladmir Putin signed a law [JURIST report] that allows for foreign "undesirable" NGOs or firms to be sanctioned and banned from operating in the country, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

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