A student arrested in a rally against the Russian authorities has become a symbol of the opposition, as his colleagues escalated pressure, demanding his quick release from custody, Reuters reported on Saturday August 10th.
Yegor Zhukov, 21, was among more than 1,000 people detained in Moscow on July 27th in one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition against Russian President Vladimir Putin's grip on power.
Zhukov's life is now on hold. He is one of around a dozen people a court has ordered to stay in pre-trial detention in connection with a criminal case on mass disorder. If found guilty, he faces up to eight years in jail.
His situation has mobilised his university, the Higher School of Economics, (nicknamed Vyshka), angering students and some teachers. One of Russia's top universities, it is run by prominent economist Yaroslav Kuzminov, husband of Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Central Bank of Russia.
One of the university's student news outlets, ran their first story about Zhukov's arrest with the headline "The First Vyshka Political Prisoner". Students have been holding daily one-person protests calling for his release in the centre of Moscow. These are the only form of street protest which do not require permission from authorities.
Supporters have also collected nearly 600 letters demanding that he be freed and have raised 2,300,000 roubles ($35,000) for his legal defence. Luiza Agadzhanova, 20, was so incensed by Zhukov's treatment that she now helps coordinate a campaign aimed at freeing Zhukov from the pre-trial detention facility where he is being held. "When I saw Yegor in handcuffs with guards in a cage, I realised it was a total nightmare," said Agadzhanova, according to Reuters.
Friday marked the 20-year anniversary of Putin being appointed acting prime minister. He has been in office as president or prime minister ever since.