(New York)– In response to the news that Moscow city court changed the sentence to actor Pavel Ustinov and convicted him to a one-year suspended sentence instead of three and a half years in prison, PEN America issued the following statement:

“We welcome the verdict revising Pavel Ustinov’s sentence, and are relieved to see him out of jail and free to return to his life and work. However, although a one-year suspended sentence is a significant improvement over three-and-a-half years in a penal colony, it is still entirely unfounded and unwarranted. Ustinov has been subject to an unacceptable and arbitrary judicial process, with evidence of his innocence blatantly disregarded. He should never have been charged in the first place. His case is just another example of the artistic community in Russia being targeted, and of the Russian judiciary being used as a tool to punish those who exercise their right to free expression.”

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, media consultant, strimel@pen.org