A Russian appeals court has canceled the prison sentence of a former coordinator of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny after he was convicted last year for “distributing pornography” by sharing a video by the German rock band Rammstein, in a case Amnesty International described as “utterly absurd.”
Andrei Borovikov’s lawyer, Leonid Krikun, told RFE/RL on February 1 that the court sent the case back for retrial and ruled that Borovikov will remain in custody for at least three months while the new trial is held.
Krikun said he would appeal the move to keep his client behind bars during the retrial.
A court in Russia’s northwestern city of Arkhangelsk sentenced Borovikov — a former coordinator of Navalny’s Arkhangelsk regional headquarters — to 2 1/2 years in prison in April 2021 after finding him guilty of distributing a video clip from the Rammstein song Pussy, which was recognized by Russian authorities as pornographic. The prison term was later cut by three months.
Amnesty International said at the time of the sentencing that Borovikov was being “punished solely for his activism, not his musical taste.”
The music video posted by Borovikov in 2014 came to the authorities’ attention in 2020 when a former volunteer at his office informed the police. Amnesty International said it suspected the volunteer was employed as an agent provocateur to help fabricate the case.
Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe expressed his support for Borovikov after his sentence was handed down.