An amateur Russian military historian was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for treason this week, the latest in a string of treason and espionage convictions targeting a wide range of Russians.
Andrei Zhukov was arrested in June 2018 on suspicions linked to “the history of the Russian Armed Forces and his vigorous activity online,” according to the state-run TASS news agency.
The Moscow City Court found Zhukov guilty on charges of high treason, TASS reported Tuesday. He will serve his time in a high-security penal colony.
State prosecutors had requested 17 years in maximum-security penal colony for Zhukov.
The trial was closed to the public because some of its materials were classified as top secret, according to TASS.
Zhukov’s defense team vowed to appeal his “illegal and groundless” sentence, TASS reported.
The mandatory minimum sentence for high treason is 12 years and the statutory maximum is 20 years.
According to TASS, Zhukov’s colleagues said that his interests included the formation, reassignment and deployment of Russia’s military units from World War I to the present.
Zhukov has also published books on World War II participants and their families, as well as military awards.
Russian authorities have in recent years imprisoned or charged scientists, journalists, pensioners and government officials for high treason or disclosing state secrets.
Russian Troops Fined for Contentious Holy Water Shoe-Washing Video
Two Russian soldiers have been fined for washing their shoes in holy water, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday.
Video of the two Navy servicemen boasting of washing their feet in “their worshippers’ holy water” at a Russian Orthodox chapel in Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad sparked backlash last fall. The men, who are natives of the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan in southern Russia, later filmed a public apology.
The Kaliningrad garrison military court found the pair guilty of insulting religious beliefs and fined them 100,000 and 200,000 rubles ($1,300 and $2,500) each, Kommersant reported.
The soldiers escaped a potential one-year prison sentence due to mitigating circumstances that included their donations to the church, to local charities and to an orphanage.
Contract soldier Rasul Saikhanov received the smaller fine because he had pleaded guilty, Kommersant reported. Conscript Jamaldin Magomedov pleaded not guilty and maintained that his actions did not offend religious feelings.
Both sentences have reportedly entered into force. Kommersant did not say whether the convicted soldiers plan to appeal their sentence.
Russia criminalized insulting the feelings of religious believers in 2013 after anti-Kremlin group Pussy Riot performed a “punk prayer” at a central Moscow cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to banish President Vladimir Putin.