MOSCOW — A Russian court on Monday handed down prison sentences of up to four years to seven Putin protesters, including a 22-year-old student who investigators said threw an ‘‘unidentified yellow object of spherical shape’’ at a line of riot police. He insisted it was just a lemon.
Yaroslav Belousov and the six others were among 28 people rounded up after a 2012 protest on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term. Clashes broke out after police restricted access to Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin, where the protesters had permission to gather.
Hundreds of their supporters gathered outside the courtroom to condemn the trial and the Kremlin’s crackdown on opposition since Putin returned to the presidency. As the judge read out sentences, chants of ‘‘Shame!’’ drifted into the courtroom.
About 200 people, including two members of the punk band Pussy Riot who spent nearly two years in prison for their own anti-Putin protest, were briefly detained by police outside court.
Some of them, including members of Pussy Riot and opposition leader Alexei Navalny, were detained again later Monday when protesters attempted to hold an unsanctioned rally outside the Kremlin.
The lawyer for Belousov, who was sentenced to 2½ years in prison, said he believed the harsh punishment was in part a Kremlin reaction to the upheaval in neighboring Ukraine.
An eighth defendant, 20-year-old Anastasia Dukhanina, received a suspended sentence. She had been held under house arrest pending trial, while the seven others had already been in custody for nearly two years.