'Sent to die'


A picture of Mamaev in his wheelchair. "Meet Anton Mamaev", the tweet says. It points out that Mamaev weighs only 18kg and that his muscles are atrophiedImage copyright
Twitter/@mycopapouccu

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“Meet Anton Mamaev”, the tweet says. It points out that Mamaev weighs only 18kg and that he suffers from severe muscular atrophy

The imprisonment of a severely disabled man for violent assault in Moscow has outraged many social media users in Russia.

Anton Mamaev, 28, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a rare condition which requires him to use a wheelchair, without which he is almost completely immobile.

Despite this fact, Mamaev was found guilty of assaulting a former special forces officer and stealing his motorised scooter.

Amongst the evidence used against Mamaev was a brief video clip, apparently CCTV footage, showing him smoking a cigarette and accompanied by two able-bodied men. The video was later posted to a community called “Mash” on popular Russian social networking site VKontakte, where it has been watched more than 80,000 times.

Image copyright
VK.com/Mash

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A still from the grainy CCTV footage which formed part of the evidence used against Mamaev

Court officials later explained that, due to the serious nature of the crime, there was no option but to sentence Mamaev to prison. His condition, officials said, was not on a government-approved list of ailments which exempt people from serving jail time.

The verdict, announced on Friday, instantly made a splash on social media, with Twitter users overwhelmingly critical of the decision. One popular tweet showed a picture of Mamaev in his wheelchair.

A popular post on the chat app Telegram called the case “an illustration of Putin’s Russia”.

“It is vital to understand that Anton has not been imprisoned; he has been sent to die a painful death,” wrote blogger “StalinGulag”, whose tirade was viewed by more than 50,000 followers. The case was also highlighted by one of Putin’s most prominent opponents, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny.

Seemingly in response to the storm on social media, Russian human rights ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova met with Mamaev’s father. She later posted on Instagram: “I am doing everything in my power to help.”

Mamaev, meanwhile, has been transferred to hospital where he remains under police custody. A court decision will later be taken as to whether to decrease his sentence because of his disability.

Blog by James Vick, BBC Monitoring, Moscow

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