Russian gets 25 years in prison for arson at army office

A Russian court on Monday sentenced a man to 25 years in prison for planning to burn down a Siberian military recruitment office in 2022, the year Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine.

Rights groups have called the prison sentence against Ilya Baburin a record sentence and insisted the arson never happened.

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However, Russia saw a wave of arson attacks on army offices after the Kremlin announced an unpopular military mobilization drive in September 2022.

A military court in Novosibirsk handed down the sentence. Prosecutors accused Baburin of aiding the Azov Battalion, a branch of the Ukrainian army that Russia has labeled a terrorist organization.

Baburin “created a plan to burn down the military commissariat in Novosibirsk,” prosecutors said.

They said he recruited someone to throw a Molotov cocktail at the army office, but the unnamed person reported him to the FSB security service instead.

Baburin was acting on orders from Ukraine and had “established contact” with members of the Azov Battalion, prosecutors said.

News agency TASS published images of Baburin in court, wearing a tracksuit and smiling in a glass cage for defendants.

“I didn’t set anything on fire,” Baburin said in court, according to independent TV channel Dozhd.

He accused the FSB of “earning points” during the Ukrainian campaign in Moscow and “investigating absurd crimes.”

Baburin, who was arrested in September 2022, was found guilty of a series of crimes, including “terrorism” and “treason.”

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His lawyer Vasily Dubkov argued in court this month that “no one suffered any harm,” according to a transcript of a statement made in court and published by the rights group Perviy Otdel.

“Baburin does not look like a spy who spreads state secrets and did not have or give out state secrets,” Dubkov said.

In addition, a military court in St. Petersburg on Monday sentenced a cadet to eight years in prison for trying to set fire to railway infrastructure last year.

The court said Timur Kursanov was performing military service at an army institute and had received orders from an unnamed person online who wanted him “to involve him in arson in exchange for money aimed at destroying transport infrastructure.”

The court said he was arrested in May last year during a failed attempt to set fire to a railway junction in St. Petersburg.

© Agence France-Presse

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