Russian jailed for 25 years over army office arson bid

Rights groups have called jail term against Ilya Baburin a record sentence, and stressed that the arson never happened.

A Russian court on Monday sentenced a man to 25 years in jail for planning to set fire to a Siberian military enlistment office in 2022, the year Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine.

Rights groups have called jail term against Ilya Baburin a record sentence, and stressed that the arson never happened.

ALSO READ: Russia says it captured two more villages in Ukraine

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

A military court in Novosibirsk handed down the sentence. Prosecutors accused Baburin of seeking to help the Azov battalion, a branch of the Ukrainian military branded a terror organisation in Russia.

Baburin “created a plan to set the military commissariat in Novosibirsk on fire”, prosecutors said.

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

Baburin was acting on Ukrainian orders and that he had “established contact” with members of the Azov battalion, prosecutors said.

TASS news agency published footage of Baburin in court, wearing a tracksuit and smiling inside a glass cage for defendants.

“I did not set anything on fire,” Baburin said in court, according to the independent Dozhd TV channel.

He accused the FSB of trying to “gain points” during Moscow’s Ukraine campaign and of “investigating absurd crimes.”

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

ALSO READ: Macron hosts Xi in French mountains to talk Ukraine, trade

His lawyer Vasily Dubkov argued in court this month that “nobody was harmed”, according to a transcript of a statement delivered in court and published by the Perviy Otdel rights group.

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

Separately, a military court in Saint Petersburg on Monday sentenced a cadet to eight years in prison for attempting to set railway infrastructure on fire last year.

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

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

© Agence France-Presse

Elections 2024: What global elections this year mean for SA

LIVE interactive map, latest news, multimedia and more!

View Map