Russian Actor Pavel Ustinov's Prison Sentence Overturned

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Moscow

Ustinov, who had been sentenced to three-and-a-half years for assaulting a police officer, was handed a one-year suspended sentence after a campaign by top entertainment industry figures.

A prison sentence of three-and-a-half years for Russian actor Pavel Ustinov, who was accused of taking part in an unauthorized street rally last month, has been replaced with a one-year suspended sentence following a massive campaign led by the country's top entertainment industry figures.

Ustinov, 23, who had been sentenced to prison time for assaulting a police officer after his arrest at an Aug. 3 pro-democracy rally in Moscow, was handed a suspended sentence by an appeal court. On Monday, the Moscow City Court changed the sentence by a Moscow's city district court.

The revision of his case came just over a week after he was freed on bail from pretrial detention following a massive campaign led by leading film and TV industry figures that included Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning director Andrei Zvyagintsev, former presidential candidate and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak and actors Danila Kozlovsky, Sergei Bezrukov, Maksim Vitorgan and Yelizaveta Boyarskaya.

Ustinov was one of thousands arrested throughout the summer protests, which were sparked by a decision to ban opposition candidates from places on the ballot for Moscow city council elections in early September. Most were released without charge, but Ustinov became one of a dozen handed tough sentences for allegations of assaulting police.

Ustinov's arrest, caught on video via mobile phones, galvanized and focused public anger. The actor claimed he was simply meeting a friend and talking on his phone when he was targeted by riot police, dragged to the ground and beaten with batons.

The video footage backed up his claims, but was ruled inadmissible by a Moscow court, which sentenced him to the long prison term for allegedly dislocating the shoulder of a police officer dragged to the ground as Ustinov was arrested. Outrage attracted dozens of people from the entertainment industry to individual pickets in front of the president's administration's building in an attempt to attract authorities' attention to Ustinov's case.

Following the public outrage, government prosecutors, who originally requested a six-year prison sentence for Ustinov, claiming alleged violence against a law enforcement officer, changed their tune and sent a request to the court, calling for a more lenient sentence.