Dozens of Russian theatre, cinema, TV and YouTube stars have rallied behind actor Pavel Ustinov after the 24-year-old was sentenced on Monday to 3.5 years in prison for involvement in a protest he claims he never attended.
“This situation concerns each and every one of us,” Alexander Molochnikov, actor and director of Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre, said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “Journalists have stood up for [Ivan] Golunov, rappers have stood up for Husky. Let’s at least not keep silent during bows today, tomorrow, and in the coming days,” he added.
Other celebrities, including ska-punk band Leningrad’s lead singer Sergey Shnurov, and Russian comedian and singer, Maxim Galkin, have taken to social media to defend the young actor, while a petition calling for Ustinov’s release has reached over 115,000 signatures since 17 September.
“Prosecutors are all cuties/ They only want a good boy sent to jail,” Shnurov wrote in a poem posted on his Instagram account.
Also on Instagram, Galkin wrote: “Politics doesn’t interest me, but I am interested in my own civic freedom, as well as the freedom of all my law-abiding compatriots. I’m hoping this story will have a positive follow-up.”
Last month, Ustinov was beaten by police and accused of verbally insulting an officer while he stood nearby demonstrators protesting against the government’s refusal to allow opposition and independent candidates to run in last week’s Moscow city council elections.
Dozens of people, including Galkin, queued to take part in a “solitary picket” outside the presidential building today in protest against Ustinov’s sentence.