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Moscow court sentences Chechen man who fought police in viral video to five years in prison

20 August 2021
Footage of 20-year-old Chechen student Sayd-Mukhammad Dzhumayev have been widely shared on social media in Russia. Photo: Anews.

Chechnya native Sayd-Mukhammad Dzhumayev (tried under the name Mikail Markhiev), made famous in a viral video that showed him fending off truncheon-wielding riot police during a protest against the detention of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, was found guilty of ‘using violence against a representative of the authorities’ and sentenced to five years in a penal colony.

The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow made its ruling on Thursday.

In January, immediately after his fight with riot police was caught on camera, Dzhumayev managed to avoid being detained and was subsequently placed on the federal wanted list. 

He was detained on 28 January by officers of the FSB of Russia in the Pskov region. The police then reported that the young man was heading to the Russian-Latvian border to leave the country.

Dzhumayev's lawyer Murad Musayev, said that the court's decision was illegal.

‘This is an act of revenge against an individual young man. We believe that the use of state institutions, and especially judicial ones, to settle accounts with quasi-political opponents like Dzhumayev, is unconstitutional’, the attorney said.

Musayev noted that it was Dzhumayev's first offense and that he had confessed to what he had done. In addition, he reimbursed the material damage to the officers of the security forces, whom he had fought. Musayev added that the injured officers stated in court that they would make no claims against Dzhumayev.

Dzhumayev ’s lawyer also stated that it was incorrect to charge his client with three counts of violence against the riot police — he was eventually convicted of two. In previous, similar cases, regardless of the number of officers involved there had only been one count, which in the circumstances of this case would allow for a maximum sentence of 2.5 years for Dzhumayev. Despite the trial being under special instructions, that should have prohibited the court from sentencing Dzhumayev to longer than the two-thirds of the maximum term, he was sentenced to five years.

Earlier, Dzhumayev's defence sought to limit his punishment to a fine, which is provided for by Russian law in such cases, but the court refused the proposal.

Indeed, in the initial phases of the trial, the prosecutor appeared to be repeatedly increasing the sentence. During the trial’s first hearing, which took place in May, the prosecutor's office demanded that Dzhumayev be imprisoned for a period of five years, but on 31 May, instead of the expected announcement of the verdict, the court ordered the investigation reopened.

At the next hearing on 18 August, the prosecutor's office requested that Dzhumayev be sentenced to six years in prison.

According to his lawyer, Sayd-Mukhammad Dzhumayev changed his first and last name to Mikail Markhiev in 2018.

The defense side intends to appeal to the Moscow City Court.

[Read more on OC Media: Chechen man hailed as unlikely hero of Russia's Navalny protests]

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