Radio Free Europe

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More Jailed In Russia's North Ossetia For COOVID-Related Protests.

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A Russian court in southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to a third group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia who took part in a massive rally in April 2020 against anti-coronavirus restrictions.

The Kirov district court on November 12 found Akhsartag Ailarov, Dzhon Dzhioyev, Valery Melikyan, and Bimbolat Bekuzarov guilty of taking part in mass disorders and sentenced them to 3 1/2 years in prison each.

A fourth individual, Zaur Kaitmazov, was sentenced to four years in prison on the same charge.

More sentences are expected to be announced against others involved in the protests against measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus in North Ossetia.

On April 20, 2020, police in North Ossetia detained dozens of protesters when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, demanding the resignation of regional leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

The rally lasted for several hours until police violently dispersed it.

The protest was initiated online via social networks by North Ossetian opera singer Vadim Cheldiyev, who lives in St. Petersburg.

Cheldiyev was detained in St. Petersburg after the rally in Vladikavkaz and brought to North Ossetia, where he was charged with spreading fake news about the coronavirus and assaulting police, which he vehemently denies.

Earlier this year, 10 other participants in last year's protest were sentenced to prison terms between four and six years on charges of taking part in mass disorders.

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