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10 Feb, 2020 13:43

Russian 'anarchists' jailed for planning FIFA World Cup and presidential election terrorist attacks

Russian 'anarchists' jailed for planning FIFA World Cup and presidential election terrorist attacks

A court in the central Russian city of Penza has handed down prison sentences of between six and 18 years to seven anarchists convicted on terrorism charges.

The men, all members of the group 'Network ('Set,' in Russian), were accused of possession of weapons and drugs, and of planning attacks during the FIFA World Cup and presidential election in 2018. They were arrested in 2017, in Penza and St. Petersburg. The Federal Security Service (FSB) claims that 'Network' also operated 'cells' in Moscow, Omsk and the capital of Belarus, Minsk.

Investigators asserted that Dmitry Pchelintsev and Ilya Shakursky were the leaders of the organization, and they received the harshest sentences: 18 and 16 years respectively, in maximum security. Andrey Chernov, Maxim Ivankin and Mikhail Kulkov were given 14, 13 and 10 years, in similar conditions. Meanwhile, Vasily Kuskov and Arman Sagynbaev will spend nine and six years in penal colonies. The men range in ages from 23 to 31 years.

Another member, Igor Shishkin, was already jailed for three-and-a-half years by a Moscow court in 2019. Additional defendants in the case have been detained in St. Petersburg pending the completion of their trials.

Four of the accused claim they were tortured into confessions by the FSB, and some human rights groups protest that the case was 'fabricated.' A complaint has been made to the European Court of Human Rights. All the defendants pleaded "not guilty" to the terrorism charges, although Kulkov and Ivankin admitted having drugs for sale.

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