Less than 24 hours after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a Moscow court sentenced several protestors for taking part in a riot on the eve of Putin’s third inauguration in 2012. The decision to postpone the sentencing until after the Winter Olympics ended was a strategic move by the Kremlin to avoid unwelcome publicity concerning Putin’s suppression of public demonstrations against his government.
From The Guardian:
A Moscow court has handed down prison sentences of up to four years for seven people who took part in a 2012 protest against Vladimir Putin. An eighth defendant received a suspended sentence.
Hundreds of their supporters gathered outside the courthouse to condemn the trial and the Kremlin's crackdown on opponents. Police detained more than 100 of them, accusing them of violating public order.
The defendants were among 28 people rounded up after a huge protest on 6 May 2012 on the eve of Putin's inauguration for a third presidential term. The rally turned violent after police restricted access to Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin, where the protesters had planned to gather.
Putin has been cracking down hard on the growing opposition movement since the beginning of his third term. During the sentencing, two members of the feminist protest band Pussy Riot, which has made international headlines with its public displays of contempt for the administration, joined hundreds of supporters of the convicted protestors, some of whom wore prison uniforms and held placards decrying Putin’s oppressive tactics. However, the sentencing Monday sends a clear message to those in the protest movement: The international spotlight of Sochi has been removed, and so too will those who push back against Putin’s administration.