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Latvian court hears case against Russians charged with trespassing on military base

September 12, 18:52 UTC+3 RIGA
The Latvian armed forces said Russians were detained by law enforcers during an intrusion into the territory of the Adazi army training facility
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Adazi military base in Latvia

Adazi military base in Latvia

© EPA/VALDA KALNINA

RIGA, September 12. /TASS/ A Riga district court has begun hearing a case against two Russian nationals, Andrei Popko and Alexander Kurkin, charged with trespassing on the Adazi military base, the defendants’ lawyer Imma Jansone told TASS.

"Today, the court hearings have begun and witnesses were questioned. Popko and Kurkin were also present at the hearing. The next hearings are scheduled for September 19, 23 and 26", the lawyer said.

According to Jansone, the Russians have been granted a three-day visa to Latvia so that they are able to attend the hearing. "They want to attend all the hearings, so now we are going to apply to the responsible bodies to provide them with a long-stay visa", Jansone added.

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 been 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". Now the Russians face prison terms of up to 5 years, compulsory labor, or a monetary fine.

In the beginning of 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.

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