A week ago the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was arrested at a protest outside a Moscow courtroom where three members of the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two-year jail terms for "hooliganism".
Kasparov was today acquitted of an "illegal protest" after the judge allowed photographic and video evidence to be used in his defence. The charge of assaulting a police officer by biting him has yet to be heard.
Garry Kasparov's reaction after his acquittal (translation below from
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".
Footage of Kasparov's arrest a week ago: