Russia jails activist for spitting on Putin portrait - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Russia jails activist for spitting on Putin portrait

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MOSCOW -

A Russian court on Wednesday jailed an activist for 15 days after finding him guilty of spitting on a portrait of President Vladimir Putin at a protest, a rights group said.

The activist, Dmitry Karuyev, 20, claimed he merely sneezed on it.

A court in the central Russian city of Cheboksary found Karuyev guilty of minor hooliganism, after he "deliberately spat at a portrait of Vladimir Putin," reported local advocacy group Shield and Sword.

It posted a scan of the magistrate's court statement condemning Karuyev for "breaching public order, expressing clear disrespect for society," while taking part in a protest on the eve of Putin's inauguration on May 7.

He and other activists were protesting with portraits of Putin outside a branch of the ruling United Russia party when he "picked up a portrait of Putin and spat on it," the court said.

Karuyev pleaded not guilty, telling police he had in fact sneezed, the Interfax news agency reported. His lawyer argued his behavior was "of an unintentional and natural character."

The story was widely picked up on the internet, becoming one of the most popular Twitter trends in Russia with a joke about "giving a sneeze about Putin."

Copyright 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

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