Russian actor Ustinov has jail sentence reduced on appeal

Pavel Ustinov walks out of court after his appeal hearing Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pavel Ustinov vowed outside court to appeal against the latest verdict

Pavel Ustinov, an actor jailed for more than three years after he was controversially convicted of injuring a police officer, has been given a one-year suspended sentence on appeal.

The decision comes a day after more than 20,000 people took part in a rally in Moscow to demand the release of Russians detained in protests.

Supporters say Ustinov was an innocent bystander caught up in a demonstration.

The actor says he plans to appeal against the latest verdict.

Such sentence reductions are rare in Russian courts, but prosecutors had called the original sentence "excessively harsh".

Why was Ustinov jailed?

Ustinov's conviction was the seventh since a wave of opposition protests began over the summer.

Demonstrators had taken to the streets after Russian authorities refused to allow opposition candidates to stand in the 8 September Moscow council elections.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ustinov appeared in court via video link from prison during his first trial

The judge accepted the police account that an officer had dislocated his shoulder as the 23-year-old actor resisted arrest during an opposition protest.

He refused to watch video of the incident, which showed Ustinov standing in the centre of Moscow looking at his phone, unaware that riot police from the Rosgvardia national guard were closing in on him.

Ustinov is seen being tackled to the ground and set upon by police with batons amid screams from bystanders.

The actor was released pending appeal earlier this month.

Some 100 actors took to social media to protest and renowned film director Andrei Zvyagintsev appealed to President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the case on Ustinov's behalf.

What happened on Monday ?

A panel of three judges finally watched the video at the appeal hearing and softened his sentence to a year, suspended, but they refused to overturn the verdict.

Leaving court, Ustinov told the BBC he was grateful for the wave of support the public had shown him but he insisted he was not guilty of any crime.

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Media captionStudents are trying to raise money and hire lawyers for those still in jail

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