“Other Russia” activitist Taisiya Osipova sentenced to 8 years on drug charges: have Soviet courts returned to Russia?

Less than two years after then-President and current Prime Minister Medvedev ordered charges delayed for an executive review of a prior court verdict, Judge Yevgeny Dvoryanchikov of the Zadneprovsky Smolensk regional court today sentenced “Other Russia” party activist Taisiya Osipova (Таисия Осипова) to eight years in prison on drug possession charges even thought state prosecutors had asked the court for a  four year sentence.

Taisiya Osipova, Smolensk jail, 2011. (photo: lentu.ru)

The primary defense witness Anton Mandrik had told the court that he’d received threats from police not to testify and passed a lie detector test after the claims were challenged by the prosecution.

Agora human rights.

Osipova, who is diabetic and the mother of a 6 year old daughter, has been remanded to a low security prison colony. Her attorneys pledged to begin immediate appeals. The court rendered the verdict despite the fact that the prosecution’s chief witnesses are alleged to have ties to the Kremlin and United Russia party. She has been in jail since November 2010. Ms. Osipova has been represented by local Smolensk attorney Natalya Shaposhnikova and attorney Svetlana Sidorkina from the human rights association Agora.

There have been prior claims even from liberal sources that she was a drug user including during an “Echo Moscow” radio show last year hosted by journalist Yulia Latynina who said that Osipova was a drug addict, a charge her husband denied.

Osipova’s attorneys say that the drugs found in her apartment were planted by officers in an illegal search in retaliation for her refusal to provide information on her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, who lives in Moscow and is an activist with the unregistered Other Russia opposition party associated with Eduard Limonov, Sergei Aksenov and Sergei Udaltsov.

Osipova first made headlines in 2003 for smacking then-governor Viktor Maslov in the face with a bouquet of carnations. She was given a one-year suspended sentence for that incident. In 2011 she was sentenced by the same judge to ten years for possession and sale of drugs under Article 228.1, Paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code, however Russia’s President at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, immediately ordered the sentence vacated and reviewed because of glaring illegalities in the prosecution’s case.

What will happen to Osipova’s daughter, Katarina Fomchenkova?

The World Organization Against Torture had twice asked authorities to release Osipova. The traditional “Strategy 31” opposition rally at Triumfalnaya Square on 31 December 2011 was dedicated to Taisiya and political prisoners across Russia.