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Russian Court Sentences Anti-Putin Activist to 8 Years for Drugs

A Russian court jailed opposition activist Taisiya Osipova for eight years on drug-related charges, defying public outcry and calls for a more lenient verdict by prosecutors and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The judge didn’t find enough mitigating factors in a review of Osipova’s case to give her less than a minimum sentence of eight years in prison for attempting to sell drugs, Olga Shilina, a spokeswoman for Zadneprovsky District Court in the northwestern city of Smolensk, said by phone today. Prosecutors had sought a four-year term.

Osipova was arrested in 2010 after police found drugs in her house and received a 10-year sentence in 2011. After then-President Medvedev called the verdict “too harsh,” a regional court annulled the ruling and ordered a new trial in March.

President Vladimir Putin, who reclaimed the Kremlin after March’s presidential elections, has hardened his response to the biggest unrest since he came to power in 2000. A Moscow court on Aug. 17 sentenced performers of the Pussy Riot punk band to two years in prison for a protest against Putin. Anti-corruption activist and protest leader Alexey Navalny as well as Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire newspaper owner who supports the opposition movement, face criminal charges.

A member of an opposition coalition called the Other Russia and the wife of one of the group’s senior members, Osipova was included by anti-government protesters in February on a list of “political prisoners” along with former Yukos Oil Co. owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Osipova contended that the drugs were planted by police in her home during a raid. The Other Russia group said that Osipova was targeted because of her husband, Sergey Fomchenkov, and her refusal to testify against him. Osipova has been kept kept in custody even though she has diabetes and a young daughter who was five years old at the time of her arrest, according to a website in her support.

Medvedev’s position on Osipova’s case remains unchanged, Interfax reported, citing his spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova.

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