Russian teen handed 6 years for attempted arson of army office
November 22, 2023 11:28 PM
A Russian court sentenced a 17-year-old to six years in a juvenile penal colony for throwing Molotov cocktails at army recruitment offices in protest at Moscow's assault on Ukraine.
Dozens of military enlistment centres across Russia have been targeted in attempted arson attacks by anti-conflict protestors since Russia launched its full-scale military campaign against Ukraine last February.
A court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday sentenced Yegor Balazeikin, 17, to six years in a youth education colony -- a Russian prison colony for minors -- on "terrorism" charges, reported an AFP journalist from the court.
The propellant in the home-made Molotov cocktails failed to ignite and did not result in any casualties or significant damage.
Balazeikin said he had targeted the enlistment buildings in Saint Petersburg and in his hometown of Kirovsk, 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Saint Petersburg, in protest at Russia's offensive on Ukraine.
His uncle was killed a few months after volunteering to fight at the start of the conflict.
Moscow has taken a harsh line against public shows of dissent and opposition to its actions in Ukraine.
Russian courts have sentenced several individuals to multiple years in prison -- also on "terrorism" charges -- for attempted attacks on military and government buildings.
At the time of his arrest, Balazeikin was a student at a prestigious high school in Saint Petersburg specialising in social sciences.
Balazeikin's supporters have expressed concern about his worsening health conditions, including autoimmune hepatitis and liver fibrosis, while in custody.
"Keeping Yegor in prison while he suffers from such a dangerous and progressive disease will kill him," said a petition launched on Change.org in October and now signed by more than 3,000 people.
According to his mother, Balazeikin "has no regrets" over his actions.
"He believes he did the right thing, because you have to be able to defend your point of view," Tatyana Balazeikina said in an interview with the independent Doxa news outlet.
During the trial, Balazeikin admitted to throwing the Molotov cocktails, but said he did not agree with the classification of his actions as a "terrorist act".
"I believe that if people en masse expressed their dissatisfaction -- not necessarily in the way I did -- it will lead to the end of this war and the saving of lives," the independent Sota outlet quoted him as saying in court.