Russian Film and TV Community Protests Prison Sentence for Actor Pavel Ustinov

Ksenia Sobchak
Mikhail Svetlov_Getty Images

Popular TV host and former presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak was among those in Russia's film and TV community who have spoken out against the decision to sentence Ustinov to 3.5 years in prison for allegedly participating in a protest rally.

Members of the Russian film community have spoken up in support of young actor Pavel Ustinov, who was yesterday sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for allegedly taking part in a protest rally in Moscow this summer.

Many of his colleagues were shocked by the harsh punishment for Ustinov, 23.  A YouTube video shows him just standing on the street during a rally on Aug. 3, after which he was detained and beaten up.

Ustinov insists he didn't even take part in the rally and was just waiting for a friend near the entrance to the metro station. Government prosecutors, however, claim the actor was heard at the rally shouting opposition slogans and that a police officer injured his shoulder in the process of detaining Ustinov.

On Monday, Ustinov was found guilty of violence against a law enforcement officer and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

Many prominent local film and TV personalities, including TV host and former presidential candidate Kseniya Sobchak, as well as Maksim Galkin, Maksim Vitorgan and Yelizaveta Boyarskaya, have either spoken up in support of Ustinov or released videos condemning his sentencing.

Several Moscow theaters concluded their shows Monday night with words of support for Ustinov. A flash mob with the slogan "I am Pavel Ustinov" has also been launched on social media.

Moscow's decision to ban several opposition candidates from the city's legislative elections on Sept. 8 led to a series of protest rallies in July and August. Riot police brutally crushed the protests, and arrests led to prison sentences for many accused of being part of the demonstrations.