Russian sentenced to 25 years for military office arson plot

LONDON (Reuters) - A court in Siberia sentenced a local man to 25 years in prison on Monday for a slew of crimes including treason and attempted arson of a military recruitment office, a Russian lawyers' association said.

Prosecutors at a military court in Novosibirsk accused Ilya Baburin of trying to burn down the enlistment office with a Molotov cocktail at the behest of an unidentified person from Ukraine.

The court also found him guilty of setting fire to a local music school, which it categorised as a terrorist act.

Baburin, identified in Russian independent media as an IT specialist, is 24 years old.

The Pervy Otdel (First Department) legal association cited his lawyer as saying there was no evidence of Baburin's involvement in the incidents, in which no casualties were reported.

"No, he did not kill, rape or rob anyone. Even according to the indictment, no one was harmed by his actions", Zona Solidarnosti (Solidarity Zone), a Telegram channel that provides information about Russian anti-war activists, quoted his lawyer Vasily Dubkov as saying.

"Does a person really deserve to spend half his life in a prison or colony for such crimes?"

More than 20,000 people have been detained in Russia for their anti-war stance since the start of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to Russian rights group OVD-Info. Some 900 people have been charged with criminal offences.

In his final speech to the court last week before sentencing, Baburin denied any guilt.

He read lines from a Russian adaption of Aristophanes' Ancient Greek comedy "Lysistrata" about the Peloponnesian War.

"You should not go into debt to this terrible Motherland!", Baburin quoted, according to a transcript published by Zona Solidarnosti.

"For your sons will hardly understand / What these lofty ideas are, / Why and for what purpose you fought wars / And orphaned your own children?"

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)