Click link to read complete story. Gee, Russia IS learning from the US! msn news How one Russian became an object lesson for all would-be protesters Christian Science Monitor Fred Weir 5 days ago © Pavel Golovkin/AP Denis Lutskevich, left, is detained by police during an opposition rally on May 6, 2012, in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. But the recently released Lutskevich's case, and those of more than two dozen others convicted of serious crimes against the state arising from the protests, is the source of intense ongoing debate in Russia. Critics argue that the cases were ginned up by state prosecutors to make examples of ordinary Russians from various walks of life rather than hardened street activists – so that all Russians would heed a tacit Kremlin warning that protests of any stripe would not be tolerated. "People were chosen from various age groups, social status, and professions in order that every Russian could recognize himself behind the bars in that courtroom," says Sergei Davidis, a human rights lawyer who has defended opposition figures. "The relative guilt or innocence of any particular defendant was irrelevant. It was intended as a deterrent to the whole society, and the message was clear: go to a protest rally, and this can be you." The Bolotnaya Affair The incident may have been started by a handful of protesters, who attempted a sit-down protest and threw bottles and other items at police – the facts are still in dispute. But riot troops responded with massed charges into the crowd, hauling people away with seemingly little discrimination. 'The script was already written' More than a month after being released, special police raided Lutskevich's flat, seizing computers and books in search of extremist literature. None was ever presented in court. He was arrested and taken to a Moscow remand prison where he spent nearly two years while the trial unfolded. He was convicted solely on the basis of testimony from a police officer who claimed Lutskevich ripped off his helmet during the melee. "There was lots of video evidence showing police brutality on the square, but none of that was admitted in court," says Lutskevich. "Nothing seemed to make any difference; it seemed like the script was already written and it just played out to the end. I got very disillusioned. I knew I had no hope." The public's lesson It is this sense of inevitability, regardless of mitigating evidence, that critics say was deliberately cultivated to send the message to all walks of society that attending a protest rally can be dangerous for one's health. "It's not about crime and punishment at all, as it would be in a genuinely law-governed place," says Nikolai Petrov, a professor at Moscow's Higher School of Economics. "The goal of these trials wasn't to teach a lesson to individual offenders, to change their future behavior. They were selected at random and given no chance precisely to change public behavior. And it does seem to have worked." In Lutskevich's case, the lesson seems to have worked. He says his personal outlook has been turned upside-down by what happened to him, but there is no way he is going to get involved in future political action. He wants to go into business, to "live by my own efforts," and find ways to get by within existing reality. "I'm still in a state of shock, and I have learned so much," from what happened, he says. "But I have learned that there is no result from mass protests or appeals to authorities to change things. It ends very badly." This article was written by Fred Weir from Christian Science Monitor and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.