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Moscow City Court sentences war historian to 12.5 years for high treason

The prosecutor asked the court to sentence the defendant to 17 years at a high security prison
Moscow City Court Gavriil Grigorov/TASS
Moscow City Court
© Gavriil Grigorov/TASS

MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. Moscow City Court has sentenced reserve captain of Russia’s Armed Forces Andrey Zhukov to 12.5 years in a penal colony, finding the military historian guilty of high treason, a TASS correspondent reports from the court.

"To find the defendant Zhukov Andrey Yevgenyevich guilty of committing a crime under Article 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (high treason) and to impose a sentence of 12 years and six months of incarceration at a high security prison," judge Andrey Suvorov said.

He made public only the introduction and the resolution of the verdict since the trial was conducted in a closed regime due to the presence of the materials marked "top secret" in the case.

During the oral arguments the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the defendant to 17 years at a high security prison. The defendant and his attorneys since the detention were insisting on a dismissal of the criminal proceedings and then on an acquittal. The verdict announced on Tuesday has not entered into legal force yet and may be appealed.

The criminal case was reviewed by three professional judges. The court included in the term of a sentence the time spent by the defendant at a pre-trial detention facility since his detention.

Additionally, the court imposed on the defendant a restriction of freedom after serving his sentence, he will have to appear once a month at a specialized state body for a check.

Detention of a historian

Military researcher Andrey Zhukov was detained and arrested by Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court in June 2018. The suspect’s residence was searched by the law enforcement retrieving USB flash drives, a hard drive and a computer. Later the investigators of the Federal Security Service (FSB) charged him with committing a crime under Article 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation punished by 12 to 20 years of incarceration. According to a TASS source close to the investigation, the accusations against the former officer are related to the "history of Russia’s Armed Forces and his intense activity on the Internet."

Since 1941, a large part of the documents of Soviet and Russian Defense Ministries has been classified and protected by the state, represented by law enforcement and security services, including Russian counterintelligence. A security clearance is needed in order for an applicant or a military official to study the military archives. According to the defendant’s colleagues who study military history, he was an active participant of military history internet forums and was interested in the history of Soviet and Russian units, including their names and deployment. For instance, military historians and participants of various specialized forums note that among his interests were the formation and reassignment of military units of the Russian Federation, changes in their names as well as their stationing since World War One to the present day.

Before the detention the defendant also participated in the search for the Great Patriotic war participants, their relatives, and military decorations about which he earlier published books.