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19 Jan, 2021 08:59

Russian newlyweds handed lengthy jail terms for ‘treason’ & ‘spying’ for NATO member plead with Putin for presidential pardon

Russian newlyweds handed lengthy jail terms for ‘treason’ & ‘spying’ for NATO member plead with Putin for presidential pardon

A married couple given a combined quarter of a century behind bars after being found guilty of treason have implored Russian President Vladimir Putin to secure their release from prison.

Antonina Zimina and Konstantin Antonets were convicted by a court in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, of passing secret information to Latvian spies. Zimina now faces 13 years of incarceration, while her husband was sentenced to twelve-and-a-half years in a maximum-security penal colony. The pair were also ordered to pay fines of 100,000 rubles ($1,300) each.

On Monday, Zimina’s father, Konstantin Zimin, told TASS that “the petition for a pardon was submitted to the president of the Russian Federation. But [Antonina] still says she isn’t guilty.” Both defendants had appealed the case in January, and continue to protest their innocence.

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Antonets is said to have had access to sensitive material through his professional ties with the local Ministry of the Economy. Zimina was Director of the Baltic Centre for Cultural Dialogue, meaning she had a broad network of ties to neighboring countries, including NATO member Latvia.

While many elements of the case remain secret, it has also been disclosed that they stand accused of publicizing information about a long-time friend, Maxim Denisenko. Denisenko is said to be the head of the local directorate of the FSB, Russia’s top domestic security agency. Reportedly, a photograph of the officer at the couple’s wedding in 2015 was uploaded to social media. Reports say that led to Denisenko’s cover being blown.

Zimin, the father of the bride, however, told the Noviy Kaliningrad newspaper that Denisenko drank heavily at the wedding, before allegedly telling other guests he was an FSB agent. The group of revelers is said to have included Latvian friends of the couple.

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