A low-profile political trial in Moscow

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September 15, 2015 by AK

Last week in Moscow Alexander Razumov was convicted – by a jury – of trying to recruit Russians into the Ukrainian Right Sector and of inciting ethnonational hatred, and was sentenced to seven years in a labor camp. The man allegedly offered two Russian policemen to join a paramilitary unit under Right Sector’s control in Ukraine and fight against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass.

Here’s my guess at how the system works. The police and the FSB are keeping an eye on a large number of Russians who have a history of involvement with fringe groups, paying special attention to those among them who have mental issues or have displayed borderline behavior. They can be easily provoked into breaking the law, and sometimes all the watcher has to do is wait until the subject, prone to self-destructive rashness, does something illegal or interpretable as such. If there’s a request for a show trial from the Kremlin, the police would have the “evidence” handy.

I have not looked into the details of the Razumov case but I have heard his lawyer speak on the radio. She noted, if I remember correctly, that all the twelve jurors deciding the case were men aged 60 or older. That’s quite a coincidence since men of that age cohort make up 10% of the eligible population (25 and older) in the Central Federal District.

Jurors are supposed to be picked at random from a list of eligible citizens. It’s understandable that men of the working age should be the most likely of all to seek their way out of jury duty, increasing the proportion of retired people available to serve. But that would also increase the share of women, especially as retirement-age women outnumber retirement-age men by a factor of 2.5x in Central Russia. So who rigged the jury?


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