Reports | August 24, 2012 19:54

Kasparov not guilty of "illegal protest" during Pussy Riot trial

Kasparov giving a statement to the press after the acquittal

On Friday a Moscow court acquitted Gary Kasparov of participating in an "unlawful protest" last week outside the Pussy Riot trial. The court didn't trust evidence brought by the Moscow police, and decided to declare the ex-World Champion not guilty. Kasparov might still be charged with "biting a police officer".

Kasparov giving a statement to the press after the acquittal today in Moscow

As was announced Thursday night on his Facebook page, Kasparov had to be at the courthouse at 11:30 AM on Friday. He was being charged of "unlawful protest", for which there's a maximum fine of 300,000 rubles (about 7,500 Euro) for individuals since a new law approved early June raised fines 150-fold.

Reports falsified

Kasparov and his lawyer came well prepared, as can be seen at the website of The Other Russia. There it is claimed that the police report had been falsified. Under Russian law, someone can only be detained for three hours before being presented with charges. 

While numerous time-stamped photographs and videos show his arrest taking place at 3:15 pm, the police report puts it at after 4:30 pm – a blatant lie.

On the left is Kasparov's statement, dictated to an officer, which has “15:15” as the arrest time (highlighted by us).
The statement by the police captain has "16:30" instead (again highlighted by us). Photos courtesy of The Other Russia 

According to Kasparov the police needed to fabricate their report to stay within the three hour “arrest-to-testimony” window. Besides, the report also said that Kasparov was yelling slogans such as “Russia without Putin” and that they warned him to stop before he was arrested, but as the YouTube videos showed, he was calmly giving an interview instead.

Verdict: not guilty

After a long day, at 20:45 Moscow time (18:45 CET) the case finally came to a verdict. Before giving the verdict, the judge read out testimonies of witnesses which stated that Kasparov was indeed carried away at an earlier time. She pointed out that the police report was inaccurate and therefore acquitted Kasparov. Applause in the courtroom followed.

The acquittal might actually have been the first not guilty verdict in this type of case, but more surprising was the way it was supported by the judge. Kasparov himself called it "a historical judgement for Russia", talking to the press outside the courtroom. He added that he is going to press charges against the police for illegal arrest, false testimony and slander.

Biting a police officer

Today's verdict was about unlawful protest, but Kasparov still hasn't been officially charged for biting a police officer. This is a much more serious crime as for using violence against a state official one can be sentenced up to five years in prison. The Moscow police department has handed the inquiry to the Federal Investigative Committee.

On Wednesday new "evidence" appeared which makes it even more likely that the police's accusation of Kasparov biting one of their officers is based on a lie. A Russian website published a chronological sequence of photographs showing that the police officer, Lieutenant Ratnikov, already had a small cut on his left hand before he started beating Kasparov.

On the same day Kasparov received support from none other than Soviet-born Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google. On his Google+ page Brin posted a link to Kasparov's op-ed in The Moscow Times, which we mentioned earlier, and commented:

If you haven't followed the Pussy Riot "trial" in Russia, I recommend you read Garry Kasparov's eye opening account of the state of freedom of expression under Putin.

Many celebrities have already spoken out about the Pussy Riot trial and one of them is Stephen Fry. On Tuesday he used wit to support politics in the finest British style:

The part of this report about today's court verdict is largely based on the many tweets by @Ilya Mouzykantskii, a New York Times summer contributing reporter and Stanford student who was at the court today.


Update 23:29: Here's the video of Kasparov's statement after leaving the courthouse and a translation provided by The Other Russia:

I have a strange sensation, it’s hard to even find words for it, because my lawyers, friends and I didn’t expect anything besides another typical guilty verdict, and when, over the course of so many years, all opposition activists have been inevitably convicted in courts like this, it’s hard to imagine that the day would come when the courts could provide us with legitimate consideration. Actually, today was very unusual, because from the very beginning, as opposed to many other previous similar cases, the judge agreed to allow motions by the defense. Moreover, all of the defense’s motions were accepted, including those that called witnesses to the stand and those that entered video and photographic material as evidence. Of course, this was a very, let’s say, unusual sign, but we didn’t understand that it would influence the final verdict so much.

I would like to express my particular gratitude to the journalists who managed to collect so many materials, especially photo and video ones, which were used in the case today and which absolutely had an influence both on the judge and, perhaps, on the people who have influence on the judge. All the same, it was just too obvious. I’d like to thank the journalists who came and appeared as witnesses here today, because it was clear that these people, who were completely different and of completely different nationalities, all said the exact same thing. It seems to me that this left an impression, and it also became obvious that, as opposed to many similar situations, there was no actual case of any sort of event occurring. And the extremely confused testimonies of the two police officers who detained me, which contradicted each other, they of course convinced the judge that their version of events held no credibility.

The result was a full acquittal, and this is a very important step forward. I don’t intend to stop here; I want to have charges brought against the officers who illegally detained me. We’ve already filed the necessary paperwork with the investigative branch for the Khamovniki region. And I hope that this verdict will give us additional evidence so that that my detention and beating will be given due consideration by investigators.

As far as the next case is concerned, the one by Officer Ratnikov about this absurd attack – again, I hope that this today’s session will allow us to draw upon video and photo materials. We have very unique materials, basically an entire archive that allows us to give practically a second-by-second account of everything that happened outside of the Khamovnichesky Court. Again, my thanks to the journalists who managed to film all of this, to dig it all up from their electronic devices and even now continue to come forward with different photos and video clips. And I hope that the investigators will act just as objectively as this judge did today, and that I’ll be so lucky as to have Officer Ratnikov be convicted of libel.

It’s hard for me to say what sort of consequences today’s verdict is going to have for the Russian opposition on the whole. I even feel slightly guilty, because until now all of these verdicts have been guilty ones, and so many of my friends are still experiencing this pressure. We know that the widespread investigation of the May 6th events on Bolotnaya Square is still ongoing. But nevertheless, this is a very important step forward, and I’m going to do everything in my power to help those who need defense in these matters, because not everyone is so lucky to have their detentions and the police violence they experienced be covered so fully by the press.

 

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

theun's picture

Gary is a truly inspirational figure.
He stood by Masha, Katya and Nadya while the rest of the Russian ProChessplayers were absent
(too lazy, conformistic or afraid...)
Don't get suffocated in ideological bull; do you get imprisoned for speaking your mind, that 's all there is to it or as Kathleen Hanna(Riot Grrl) said:
"Seriously they are in a F... Cage!!!
August 7th, 2012

So Pussy Riot is in jail and the trial is a total farce. Madonna has spoken out on the subject along with a kazillion people from around the world. As someone who has been in feminist bands I am both saddened and outraged. When my band Le Tigre wore STOP BUSH dresses and spoke out against racism, homophobia and sexism we feared not getting a fair shake in both the music industry and the underground scene, but never jail. Karen Finley lost her NEA grant in the 90′s and my band Bikini Kill suffered jeers, violence and hate campaigns against us, but we never even thought about going to prison for our beliefs. The Guerilla Girls wear masks to protect their jobs and/or status in the artworld and also to have a leaderless group, but not to keep themselves out of jail."

Free Pussy Riot!

As Kathleen Hanna( riot grrl)

S3's picture

Lol. Madonna, riot grrrl and a kazillion people from around the world are all raving mad.

S3's picture

and they can't sing either

Ruben's picture

What Madonna must do is instead have a bog mouth going in a church in the USA pick up the gitar and started to sing an yell against Obama with punk music. In the middle of the christian belt or mormons or something like that and then see what happens. Or so goes between the prolive movement and yelling arborus arbortus I did it twice all girls must do it if they dont want the child. Something like that then I will be just curious how these Christians in the USA will respond.

Anonymous's picture

If Madonna had trespassed a Jewish Synagogue or Mormon temple and tried a stunt like that then there would have been hell to pay.

S3's picture

Not in most Western countries. Insulting religious people is about the most safe thing to do * if you are looking for attention and Madonna has done it plenty.

* apart from Muslims of course

Thomas's picture

In Germany, three young people have to appear in court for disturbing a religious service in Cologne Cathedral. Dressed with colorful woolen hats like Pussy Riot, they loudly shouted "Free Pussy Riot and all prisoners" and distributed flyers. The Roman Catholic church wants them prosecuted. The newspaper article (in "de Volkskrant") mentions that they could face a longer prison fine (up to 3 years) than the 'original'. In a similar case in 2006 (shouting and distributing flyers - no details given) the verdict was 9 months in cell, monetary fines are more common according to the article.

Bottom line: Such actions (for whichever case, noble or not) also aren't accepted or tolerated in at least one western country.

S3's picture

And rightly so. Still 9 months in jail or monetary fines are not the same as "hell to pay". But perhaps anonymous was referring to some later sentence.

Anonymous's picture

LOL, as if you weren't anonymous. Anyone can pick the nick S3. But from the superb quality of your posts, everybody can easily identify you as the expert you are.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Also see my comments (following up on King Tal) on the August 17th article "Kasparov arrested outside Pussy Riot trial courthouse" (2nd page).
The 5 months detention awaiting trial and the motivation of the verdict were of course outrageous, but I can understand Pussy Riot was persecuted. Last week I still defended them, saying more or less that the patriarch's open political support of Putin made him a legitimate target. But I'm not so sure anymore.
I don't mind some direct action against politicians, even when it is not exactly within the law. A public figure should be used to something. But you don't break into a politicians house and harass his children.
It would be different if patriarch Kirill had just delivered a political speech in the same church. But now, for the moment I would say: right motive, wrong means.

trollaras's picture

Kasparov should have rotten in jail

theun's picture

kind, loving, nice and generous people, my compliments!

Anonymous's picture

I agree, lovely people they are. I only read certain posts if I want to feel better or need a good joke. Fortunately, this isn't the case very often.

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