Russia

Moscow Court Hands Out Prison Terms, Suspended Sentences To ‘New Greatness’ Youth Activists

MOSCOW — Seven members of the so-called New Greatness movement have been handed sentences ranging from 7 years in prison to 4-year suspended sentences.

The Lyublino district court in Moscow on August 6 convicted all seven defendants on charges of “organizing an extremist group intending to carry out crimes of extremist character.”

Judge Aleksandr Maslov sentenced 27-year-old Vyacheslav Kostylenkov to 7 years in prison, 34-year-old Pyotr Karamzin to 6 1/2 years in jail, and 22-year-old Vyacheslav Kryukov to 6 years in prison.

The other defendants — Maksim Roshchin, Dmitry Poletayev, Maria Dubovik, and Anna Pavlikova — were handed suspended prison terms between 4 and 6 1/2 years.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Earlier on August 6, dozens of people gathered in front of the court building to show support for the accused.

Police detained three activists who had worn police uniforms while staging a protest performance in front of the court building,

In their protest, the activists cut the throat of a mannequin with a knife — sending out a spray of fake blood while one of the protesters chanted: “It is an act of sacrifice taking place here!”

On July 14, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Kostylenkov, 27, to 7 1/2 years in prison; Karamzin, 34, to 6 1/2 years; and Kryukov, 22, to six years.

The prosecutor also requested that the four other defendants be handed suspended sentences ranging from four to 6 1/2 years.

All of the defendants were arrested in 2018 and charged with creating an extremist group with the intention of overthrowing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Critics say the case against them was fabricated by Russia’s security services.

The rights group Memorial describes the seven as political prisoners.

Pavlikova was 17 at the time of her arrest. She spent several months under house arrest, which sparked protests in Moscow and other cities.

The defendants say they had turned their online chat group, which was critical of Russia’s government, into a political movement called New Greatness at the suggestion of one group member.

Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement’s charter, and rented premises for gatherings was a special agent of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

In April 2019, another member of the group, Pavel Rebrovsky, was sentenced to 29 months in prison.

Earlier, group member Rustam Rustamov received a suspended 18-month prison sentence.

Both pleaded guilty and cut deals with investigators.

Another group member, Sergei Gavrilov, fled to Ukraine in October 2019. He has asked for political asylum in Ukraine.

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