Moscow   -  A Russian court on Thursday eased a two-year jail sentence handed to an activist who displayed a mannequin wearing a mask of President Vladimir Putin. Alexander Shabarchin and Danila Vasilyev were arrested in 2018 after they taped a mannequin sporting the mask and a prisoner’s outfit to a lamp post in the Urals city of Perm. 

They then filmed the reactions of passers-by and uploaded the video on Youtube.

In August, Shabarchin, 22, was sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism, while Vasilyev received a one-year suspended sentence.

Following an appeal the Perm regional court on Thursday reduced Shabarchin’s punishment, giving him a two-year suspended sentence, court spokeswoman Alyona Popova told AFP.

Vasilyev’s punishment was left unchanged.

Russia’s top rights group Memorial described Shabarchin as a “political prisoner”.

Amnesty International said last month that Shabarchin should be released and Vasilyev’s conviction quashed.

The stunt “falls within the scope of the right to freedom of expression, which Russia has committed to upholding as a party to the international human rights treaties,” said Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia researcher.