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Russian student jailed for attempt to join Islamic State regrets her choice — ombudsperson

In 2015, Varvara Karaulova, then a philosophy student, took a flight to Turkey aiming to cross the Syrian border and join the Islamic State
Varvara Karaulova (Alexandra Ivanova after full name change) Sergei Fadeichev/TASS
Varvara Karaulova (Alexandra Ivanova after full name change)
© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

VOLOGDA, January 20. /TASS/. A Russian female student, sentenced to four and a half years behind bars for trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia), has repented and deeply regrets her choice, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatayana Moskalkova has said.

After meeting Varvara Karaulova (Alexandra Ivanova after full name change) in prison, Moskalkova told reporters in Vologda on Wednesday that the girl had no complaints about prison conditions.

"She [Karaulova] has no complaints about prison conditions or regulations. She works in a sewing workshop. She also has no complaints about her health, she looks like an attractive young girl in good health, and she strongly regrets her choice, which caused sorrow in her family and changed her life," Moskalkova said. "She realizes that she has fallen victim of this ugly ideology. Varvara Karaulova is very remorseful and hopes for mercy from the supreme authority."

In December 2017, Karaulova sought the ombudsperson’s help and support in preparing an appeal for pardon to the Russian president.

On May 27, 2015, Varvara Karaulova, then a student at the Moscow University’s school of philosophy took a flight from Moscow to Istanbul, concealing the fact from her parents. The people who met her at the airport in Turkey took her to a safe apartment in the town of Kilis. Security service agents and the police detained her later for an attempt to cross the Turkish-Syrian border illegally.

Her father managed to bring her back home on June 12, 2015. The court authorized her arrest on October 28 and official charges were issued on November 10.

The Moscow region military court sentenced Karaulova to 4.5 years in a general penal colony on December 22, 2016. The judges deduced the fourteen months she had spent at a pretrial detention facility from her jail term. Thus, Karaulova will serve three years and four months in jail.

Her request for a suspended sentence was rejected. The judge said the defendant, who acted out of her own free will, communicated with the Islamic State militants, tipping them on the steps taken by the FSB state security service agents, and trained herself for an attempt to flee Russia and join the terrorist group.

The defense later appealed the verdict, but the Supreme Court ruled to uphold it.