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Startseite Urgent Actions 2018 05 Peaceful protester in pre-trial detention
UA 090/18
Abgeschlossen am 21. Juni 2018
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26.4.2019: latest News

Prisoner of conscience Mikhail Tsakunov has been conditionally released today (26 April) after spending almost a year in pre-trial detention.

He was charged in May 2018 for his peaceful participation in an opposition rally and was initially facing up to ten years in prison. Although the charges against him were lowered and we are hopeful that he will not be given a prison sentence, his trial is ongoing and he is still facing up to five years in prison.

We are now considering the best way forward, and we will keep you posted.


Correction name spelling

The spelling of Mikhail Tsakunov’s surname was not consistent throughout this UA. The Russia team have just confirmed that it should be Tsakunov, not Tsukanov, as it appeared throughout.

Peaceful protester in pre-trial detention

AI-Index: EUR 46/8381/2018

On 7 May, Dzerzhinsky District Court in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, remanded Mikhail Tsakunov in pre-trial detention until 4 July for alleged use of violence against a police officer. If found guilty, Mikhail Tsakunov could face 10 years in prison. However, the charges against him contravene publicly available video footage.

Mikhail Tsakunov was arrested on 5 May in central Saint-Petersburg, Russia, where over 2,000 people assembled to protest Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president. On 6 May, after a night in the police station, Mikhail Tsakunov was issued with a fine of 10,000 Russian roubles (US $158) by Kuybyshevskiy District Court for participating in the «unauthorised» protest rally. After the hearing, Mikhail Tsakunov was escorted back to the police station and informed about criminal proceedings against him under Article 318(2) of the Russian Criminal Code, «violence against a police officer endangering their life or health» – a crime punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment. A police officer claimed that Mikhail Tsakunov had intentionally punched him in the face and knocked out a tooth. On 7 May, Dzerzhinsky District Court ruled to remand Tsakunov in pre-trial detention until 4 July. On 8 May, Mikhail Tsakunov’s lawyer appealed the decision in the Saint-Petersburg City Court.

The moment of Mikhail Tsakunov’s arrest is captured in an amateur video which is available on YouTube ( Mikhail Tsakunov is seen standing slightly aside from other protesters, with his girlfriend and another man while holding a semi-deflated human-size yellow rubber duck. They are approached by a group of riot police officers, who, without any warning, launched at them. The police are seen arresting the other man. They then continued to chase Mikhail Tsakunov and his girlfriend who are both trying to walk away, and throw both of them to the ground. Four police officers instantly grab Mikhail Tsakunov’s hands while he is still on the ground, lift him and lead him away without letting go of his hands. Mikhail Tsakunov’s girlfriend was detained together with him, but was released in the evening of 5 May.


Protest rallies were organized in over a hundred cities and towns across Russia on 5 May 2018, to protest Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president. Vladimir Putin was inaugurated two days after, on 7 May, when he became Russia’s president for a fourth time. In Moscow, organized groups of men wearing «Cossack» uniform attacked peaceful protesters seeking to disperse them, acting with total impunity and in full view of the police who were also using excessive force to end the demonstration (see:

Mikhail Tsakunov denies all charges against him. His lawyer has appealed the judge’s decision to remand Mikhail Tsakunov and requested to place him under travel restrictions or house arrest instead. In court, Mikhail Tsakunov demonstrated bruises he received as result of the excessive force used by police officers against him during the arrest. Mikhail Tsakunov also testified that officers repeatedly abused him verbally while he was inside the police bus.

The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been increasingly restricted in Russia since 2012, in law and in practice, and remain under severe clampdown. The authorities regard any gathering held without their express prior permission, however peaceful and small, as «unauthorised». They regularly deploy police to disrupt and disperse such gatherings, arrest their participants, and prosecute the detained protesters in administrative, and in some instances criminal, proceedings. For details see: Russian Federation: The right to freedom of peaceful assembly – freedom in all but name, available at

Name: Mikhail Tsakunov

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