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Two Russians acquitted for trespassing on military base in Latvia

May 24, 2018, 1:26 UTC+3 RIGA

The third suspect in the case, Vladimir Linderman, was acquitted by the Riga district court last year

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RIGA, May 24. /TASS/. A Latvian court has acquitted two Russian nationals, sentenced last year to about four months in prison for trespassing on the Adazi military base in Latvia in the summer of 2015, their lawyer Imma Jansone has told TASS.

"Today, the regional court of Riga cancelled the ruling of the Riga district court, which had earlier found [Andrei] Popko and [Alexander] Kurkin guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to jail terms that they had already served while in pre-trial custody," the lawyer said.

The third suspect in the case, Vladimir Linderman, was acquitted by the Riga district court last year.

"All the three are acquitted now," the lawyer said.


Terrorists or hooligans

The news about Popko and Kurkin’s detention came on June 10, 2015. Latvia’s authorities said the two had entered the Adazi military base where NATO’s Saber Strike military drills were being conducted. The Russians claimed they had planned a peaceful protest against NATO’s troop buildup near the Russian border. They used a ladder to climb over the fence, entered the territory of the base and unfurled a flag in the colors of Saint George ribbon.

Eduard Limonov, a former leader of Russia’s National Bolshevik Party (NBP) and now the leader of the non-registered party Other Russia, said on the same day the two young men were NBP activists.

After that a court in Latvia arrested both Russians, charging them with violating two articles of the country’s Criminal Code. The counts included espionage and an attempted terrorist attack by a group of persons acting in conspiracy. At first, they could have faced 20 years behind bars or even life imprisonment. However, later Latvia’s Security Police changed the charges to "hooliganism by a group of persons" for which they could face prison terms of up to 5 years, compulsory labor, or a monetary fine.

In early October 2015, a court in Latvia released Popko and Kurkin from custody but they were prohibited from leaving the country. Additionally, they were forced to remain under police supervision. Later, the court permitted them to leave Latvia until the hearing began, so they went back to Russia.

In July 2017, the Russians were found guilty of trespassing on the Adazi military base and sentenced to three months and 27 days. The term has already been served as the court took into account the time they had spent in custody.

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