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Putin emphasizes judges may heed respected people’s views, but the law supersedes all else

The public’s active civic stance in modern Russia is of great importance, the president stressed

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. When considering high-profile criminal cases, judges may heed the opinions of respected people, but the verdicts they pronounce must be based on the law, Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin."

"The opinions of prestigious people in society are important," Putin said, while speaking about petitions and messages in support of stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, charged with embezzlement in the Seventh Studio case. "I think that the court takes into account the opinions of respected people. Nevertheless, it has to make judgments based not on their opinion, but based on the law and legal awareness."

In general, the public’s active civic stance in modern Russia is of great importance, and this is already good, Putin said.

Commenting on the directive he handed down to probe the legality of the sentence given to Konstantin Kotov for protest violations, Putin said that "the President, acting as a guarantor of the Constitution, has such a right and must respond to these sorts of issues, which we see happening in practice."

Kotov was convicted in Moscow in September 2019, and was sentenced to four years in a penitentiary for repeated violations at rallies.

At his year-end news conference in December 2019, Putin was asked to pay attention to this case. Corresponding instructions to the Prosecutor General’s Office followed. In January, the Constitutional Court decided to review the verdict. Kotov’s lawyers are appealing for Kotov’s sentence to be annulled. The Prosecutor-General’s Office is for reducing the punishment to one year in prison. The Second Cassation Court of general jurisdiction will hold hearings on the case on March 2.

Episode 4 of the video interview is available at