Opposition Activist Gets Eight Years for Drug Charge

A regional court in Smolensk sentenced Russian opposition activist Taisiya Osipova to eight years in prison on drug possession charges on Tuesday.

State prosecutors had asked the court to jail Osipova for just four years

Osipova, an activist for the Other Russia party, is to serve her sentence in a low security prison colony.

Her defense team said they will appeal the verdict and press for her full acquittal, lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina said.

The court excluded the search of Osipova’s apartment from consideration, leaving only two episodes – two “sting operations,” Sidorkina said, adding that they were absolutely illegal.

“We will insist that the two witnesses, as well as operatives and ‘buyer’ were persons with an interest at stake,” she said.

Osipova, 28, was arrested in 2010 and imprisoned for ten years late last year after police found four grams of heroin at her home in the west Russian city of Smolensk. Osipova said the drugs were planted on her by officers after she refused to provide them with information on her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, an activist with the unregistered Other Russia opposition party.

Osipova is the mother of a five-year-old child and suffers from diabetes. Her sentence was overturned on appeal in February after then President Dmitry Medvedev called it “overly harsh,” and called for a new probe. The court refused, however, to free Osipova on bail.

Osipova has been politically active since the early 2000s, when she was a member of radical writer and politician Eduard Limonov’s now-outlawed National Bolshevik Party. Limonov is now head of the Other Russia party.

Osipova received a boost in her bid for freedom earlier this week when the court ruled to consider a statement by a witness that the drugs were planted on her. Witness Anton Mandrik’s evidence was allowed after he passed a lie-detector test. He told the court he had received threats from police not to testify.

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