Russia | Heavy sentences for three brothers accused of wanting to fight for Ukraine

(Kyiv) A Russian military court has sentenced three brothers to 17 years in prison for “treason” for trying to join the ranks of a group of Russian anti-Kremlin fighters based in Ukraine, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Published at 12:45 p.m.

Ioann, Alexei and Timofei Ashcheulov “decided to participate in the activities”, including military activities, of the “Russian Freedom Legion”, the Moscow prosecutor’s office said.

The unit, which is classified as a “terrorist” organization in Russia, fights for Ukraine and had carried out armed incursions into Russian border areas earlier this year.

The three brothers are aged between 19 and 24, according to the independent Russian news website Mediazona, which reported that two of them delivered a plea against the “crime” they say Russia committed in attacking Ukraine.

Unusually for a trial of this type in Russia, it was not held behind closed doors.

Russian authorities regularly arrest and convict citizens accused of having collaborated with Ukraine or attempted to do so to varying degrees. They also crack down on those who have simply spoken out against the Russian assault.

The Ashcheulov brothers, who were found guilty of “treason” by a Moscow military court, received sentences of 17 years’ imprisonment for two of them and 17 and a half years for the third.

The first three years of their sentences will be served in prison, and the following years in a “strict regime penal colony,” according to the prosecutor’s office.

In July 2023, they allegedly tried to reach Ukraine on foot, bypassing official checkpoints.

They were arrested 1.5 kilometers from the border, according to the authorities.

Photos released by authorities show them in the dock, all dressed in black T-shirts and looking youthful.

In court, Timofey, the younger, assured that he had not intended to commit “anything immoral.”

His actions, and the legal proceedings against him, stem “from the fact that I consider the conduct of the special military operation to be a crime,” he said, using the Kremlin’s euphemism for the conflict.

Ioann, 24, said he wanted to stop Russian authorities from committing the “worst crime of the 21st century.”e century,” according to Mediazona.

He refused to ask for the court’s “indulgence,” denouncing a judiciary “subject” to the executive. “I think you have no freedom, so you can’t give it to me.”

Ioann said he was “calm” about his sentence, assuring that he did not see himself as a “traitor” to his country.

“The most important thing is my personal freedom, which you cannot deprive me of,” he said, addressing the court.



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