Several thousand demonstrators gathered in Moscow on Sunday to demand the release of 20 individuals who were arrested during a protest in Bolotnaya Square the night before President Vladimir Putin’s 2012 inauguration. Yesterday, demonstrators rallied against the harsh treatment of those arrested, some of whom face up to ten years in prison. The Associated Press reports: Putin's return to the presidency saw the passing of new laws aimed at cracking down on anti-government protests and restricting non-governmental organizations. The protesters marched Sunday with portraits of the jailed protesters and a banner stretching across the street reading: "Freedom to the Bolotnaya heroes, the hostages of Putin. Some also carried Ukrainian flags to show their support for the anti-government protesters in neighboring Ukraine, where demonstrations have been going on for more than two months. Most of the Bolotnaya defendants have been in prison or under house arrest for the past year and a half as they wait for a decision on their cases. One defendant was forced into psychiatric treatment in October 2013, causing outcry among activists who viewed the verdict as reminiscent of the Soviet-era practice of punitive psychiatry.
Sarah Berlin is an intern at In These Times.