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Seven Russian radical group members sentenced to lengthy jail terms

According to investigators, the group’s members plotted attacks on law-enforcement officers and administrative bodies with an aim to overthrow the government

PENZA, February 10. /TASS/. The Privolzhsky district military court in the western Russian city of Penza sentenced seven members of a radical group to prison terms ranging between six and 18 years on terrorism-and drug-related charges, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom on Monday.

The defendants were members of the Set’ (Network) radical group, created in 2016 and later included into Russia’s federal list of terrorist organizations. During the trial, the judge in the case sided with the prosecution, who argued that the group was a trans-regional terrorist organization with branches in Penza, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

According to investigators, the group’s members practiced use of weapons and plotted attacks on law-enforcement officers and administrative bodies with an aim to overthrow the government. Some of the defendants were also found guilty on drug-related charges.

All suspects pleaded not guilty.

Group members Ilya Shakursky and Dmitry Pchelintsev were found guilty of creating a terrorist group and illegal acquisition of weapons. They were sentenced to 16 and 18 years in prison, respectively.

The remaining five defendants in the case were found guilty of participating in a terrorist organization. Three of them - Andrei Chernov (sentenced to 14 years), Maxim Ivankin (sentenced to 13 years) and Mikhail Kulkov (sentenced to 10 years) - will serve their sentences in a high-security prison.

Two defendants - Vasily Kuksov and Arman Sagynbayev - were sentenced to nine and six years in a general security prison, respectively.

Defense lawyers plan to appeal the verdict within the next ten days.

"We have 10 days [to file an appeal], but we have not yet seen the entire verdict. Only the judicial disposition was pronounced today. Therefore, we will possibly file an appeal and make some additions to it later," Chernov’s lawyer Stanislav Fomenko said. "We generally disagree with the verdict."

Mikhail Kulkov’s lawyer Igor Kabanov told TASS he also viewed the sentencing on terrorism-related charges as unfounded.

"We believe that the verdict on those charges was unlawful and unfounded and pronounced in violation of the ‘innocent-until-proven-guilty’ principle. Kulkov’s participation in a terrorist group was not proven in court," Kabanov said.

In January 2019, another member of the group, St. Petersburg resident Igor Shishkin, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3.5 years in a general security prison.

At present, cases of two more suspected members of the group - Yuliy Boyarshinov and Viktor Filinkov - are being heard in St. Petersburg.