Hefty Prison Terms Sought For 'New Greatness' Youth Activists

MOSCOW -- A Russian prosecutor has demanded that three members of the New Greatness youth activist group facing extremism charges receive between 4 and 7 1/2 years in prison.

The prosecutor on July 14 asked Moscow’s Lyublino District Court to sentence Ruslan Kostylenkov, 27, to 7 1/2 years in prison, Pyotr Karamzin, 34, to 6 1/2 years and Vyacheslav Kryukov, 22, to 6 years.

The prosecutor also requested that the four other defendants in the high-profile case -- Maria Dubovik, Anna Pavlikova, Dmitry Poletayev, and Maksim Roshchin -- be handed suspended sentences of between 4 and 6 1/2 years.

All the defendants were arrested in 2018 and charged with creating an extremist group aiming to overthrow the government of President Vladimir Putin.

Critics say the case has been fabricated by Russia’s security services, and the rights group Memorial has recognized the accused as political prisoners.

Pavlikova was 17 at the time of her arrest. She spent several months under house arrest, which sparked protests in Moscow and other cities.

The defendants say they had turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement called New Greatness at the suggestion of a group member. Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

In April 2019, another member of the group, Pavel Rebrovsky, was sentenced to 29 months in prison.

Earlier, another member, Rustam Rustamov, received a suspended 18-month prison sentence.

Both pleaded guilty and cut deals with investigators.

One more member of the group, Sergei Gavrilov, fled to Ukraine in October 2019, where he has asked for political asylum.