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Woman Acquitted of Gorbachev Insult

From Associated Press

A Moscow city court on Friday acquitted a dissident of slandering President Mikhail S. Gorbachev but found her guilty of burning the Soviet flag, Tass reported.

Valeria Novodvorskaya was sentenced to two years of correctional labor for “insulting the state flag.”

The court found that she did not break the law against insulting the president, the news agency said. The law was enacted last year at Gorbachev’s insistence and has aroused concern among human rights activists who view it as an attempt to stifle political debate.

Soviet authorities had asked for a two-year sentence for Novodvorskaya for calling Gorbachev a “red fascist,” “hangman” and other names. During the trial last week, she also called him a “bald coward” and vowed to keep insulting him.

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“If you are mean enough to pass this law, be mean enough to use it,” she told the court.

Novodvorskaya, a veteran leader of the Democratic Union group, also was charged with burning two red Soviet hammer-and-sickle flags in front of the Moscow City Council building last Sept. 16.

Novodvorskaya has the right of appeal “pending the higher decision of higher judicial authorities,” Tass said. The court said she could remain free until then, but cannot leave Moscow.


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