October 11, 2019
A Russian lawyer and human rights activist has been found guilty of attacking police and fined 30,000 rubles ($468) by a Krasnodar court in connection with his detention while he was trying to provide legal advice to protesters being taken into police custody at an anti-government rally a year ago.
Mikhail Benyash had faced up to five years in prison, and investigators were reportedly seeking a larger fine.
International rights group Amnesty International has called the charges against Benyash “politically motivated.”
He has spent the past decade working on civil and criminal cases and “has been providing legal assistance to the participants of rallies which were not officially approved,” according to Frontline Defenders, a Dublin-based group that seeks to protect “at-risk” human rights defenders.
Benyash was arrested on September 9, 2018, in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest during a wave of public rallies against Russian pension reform.
He was initially ordered to spend two weeks in jail in September 2018 for allegedly disobeying police.
Later, he was charged with “using violence against a government official,” leading to this latest conviction.