Russian prosecutors seek lengthy prison terms for suspects in cases linked to the war in Ukraine

A Russian court in Siberia on Friday sentenced a man to 19 years in prison for shooting a military enlistment officer while prosecutors in St. Petersburg asked for a 28-year sentence for a woman charged in the bombing of a cafe last April that killed a prominent military blogger, reports said.
The developments underscore the authorities’ determination to harshly punish anyone who acts against President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, especially those committing acts of violence, in the run-up to the presidential election in March that the Russian president is all but certain to win.
But even peaceful protesters have been slapped with long prison terms as the Kremlin cracks down on dissent following its invasion of Ukraine, attempting to jail and silence Putin’s critics.
In the Siberian city of Irkutsk, 26-year-old timber truck driver Ruslan Zinin was sentenced Friday to 19 years after opening fire in September 2022 at the military enlistment office in Ust-Ilimsk, a town 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) north of Irkutsk, the state-run Tass news agency reported.
The shooting came a few days after Putin ordered a partial military mobilization to boost his forces fighting in Ukraine, sparking rare protests across Russia that were shut down, sometimes brutally.
Men with no military experience or with previous exemptions to service were summoned and conscripted. Police rounded up men on the streets of Moscow and other cities, or raided hostels and warehouses to find men of fighting age.
Zinin reportedly walked into the enlistment office, saying that “no one will go to fight” and opened fire, seriously wounding an officer. The independent Telegram messaging channel Solidarity Zone said he wanted to prevent his younger brother from being conscripted.
In St. Petersburg, Tass said prosecutors on Friday asked for a 28-year sentence for Darya Trepova, 26, over the cafe bombing that killed Vladlen Tatarsky, a pro-war military blogger who regularly reported from the front lines in Ukraine.
Trepova was arrested after being seen in a video presenting Tatarsky with a bust of himself, moments before the explosion at a riverside cafe where he was leading a discussion. The blast killed him and wounded 50 others.
She later claimed in court that she didn’t know the bust contained a bomb, according to reports in Russian media, and said she was acting upon instructions from two men who told her there was a listening and tracking device inside.
Russian authorities have blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating the bombing. Kyiv has not directly responded to the accusation, but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the bombing as part of Russia’s internal turmoil.
Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, charged that a Ukrainian citizen identified as Yuriy Denysov had supplied Trepova with explosives through a courier service, acting on orders from the Ukrainian security services.
Tatarsky was the pen name of Maxim Fomin, who had hundreds of thousands of followers on his Telegram messaging app channel. He had joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed insurgency erupted there in 2014 and fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging.
Military bloggers have played an increasingly prominent role in Russia amid the fighting in Ukraine, supporting the Kremlin but often criticizing Russia’s military leadership for perceived flaws. Unlike independent media or opposition figures, they have not faced punishment for that criticism.
On Thursday, another court in St. Petersburg sentenced a nurse, Maxim Asriyan, to eight years in prison on terror and treason charges for plotting to torch an army enlistment office in 2022, the Russian SotaVision Telegram channel said.
The prosecution had initially asked the court to sentence Asriyan to 14 years, even though he did not carry out the attack, the channel reported.
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