On January 19th another trial against Philip Kostenko, who was recently released after a month of administrative arrest, will take place in St Petersburg. This time, the activist is accused of violating Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for insulting a police officer. A court hearing, presided over by judge Kuznetsova, will start on January 19th at 14:30 at KrasnogoTekstilshika Street, house 9-11, judicial district 203.
It should be noted that the criminal case, in which Kostenko is the accused, was registered in March, 2011, on the initiative of the City Centre to Counter Extremism (ЦПЭ). The matter that led to the criminal prosecution was the protest against the so-called “police reform.” Kostenko reported the following in his blog: “On March 1st, the day in which the “Law on Police” was put in force, a protest was held in St. Petersburg. Its purpose was to show the absurdity of changing names while preserving the essence of repressive structures. To demonstrate this, a miniature police booth made of carton was supposed to be set up near Gostiny Dvor, a place where protests, defending the Freedom of Assembly, which is often suppressed by the authorities, take place. But while transferring the construction, something unforeseen occurred. One of the “new” police officers decided to take the booth, resulting in the destruction of the structure.
A few months later, Kostenko was detained, his apartment was searched and he was accused of deliberately insulting the police officer with his actions. However, the activist’s defence counsel does not find any of his actions to be a criminal offence – he did not have any intention to interact with the police officer, who appeared unexpectedly, and especially did not plan to insult him. Kostenko himself is denying his involvement in the actions, of which he is accused of. The new criminal case, in all likelihood, once again serves the purpose of criminalising protesting initiatives and preventing criticism of the authorities.