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2 protesters convicted of assault charges from Moscow rally

Moscow (AP) — Two Russian protesters were convicted Tuesday of attempted assault and assault on a police officer in a case that's largely been seen as a crackdown on political opposition. Samariddin Radzhabov, 21, was arrested at a July 27 anti-government rally in Moscow on accusations of throwing a plastic bottle at police officers. Sergei Surovtsev, 30, was detained in late November for allegedly hitting an officer with part of a riot-control fence at the same demonstration.

Both were charged with assaulting a police officer. The charge against Radzhabov later was amended to attempted assault. Both maintained their innocence. Moscow's Meshchansky District Court sentenced Radzhabov to a fine and immediately commuted his sentence with credit for time served. He was released from custody after spending more than three months in jail.

Separately, the city's Tverskoy District Court sentenced Surovtsev to 2 1/2 years in prison. The July protest was sparked by Russian election authorities refusing to register a dozen people as opposition and independent candidates for Moscow's city council.

The protest attracted up to 10,000 people and proved to be the largest unauthorized rally challenging President Vladimir Putin's rule in seven years. Riot police violently dispersed participants at the event.

More than 1,300 people were detained on the day of the rally, and two dozen were handed criminal charges. Nine protesters have received prison terms. The prosecution of protesters elicited public outrage and was condemned by human rights advocates as arbitrary and politically motivated.

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