Controversial Russian extremism case ends with conviction

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Thursday convicted and sentenced several people on extremism charges widely seen by critics as fabricated.

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Moscow's Lyublino District Court found members of the New Greatness youth group guilty of creating an extremist organization.

It sentenced three people to terms of six to seven years in prison, and gave four other members suspended sentences between four and six and a half years.

They were arrested in March 2018 on charges of creating an extremist organization aiming to overthrow the government. Defense lawyers have maintained that an undercover police agent wrote the group’s radical program, effectively fabricating the case against young people with opposition views who were just meeting to discuss politics.

The case has been criticized by human rights advocates as a glaring example of police abuse and politically motivated application of Russia’s anti-extremism laws.

The arrests of the two youngest members — 17-year-old Anna Pavlikova and 19-year-old Maria Dubovik — prompted a big protest in August 2018, after which the two teens were released under house arrest.

A member who has remained in jail said he was beaten and tortured by police.

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