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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Turns Down '91 Coup Defendants' Appeal

Russia's Supreme Court rejected a renewed appeal Wednesday by two members of the new parliament involved in the long-running 1991 Soviet coup trial.


Russian news agencies said Vasily Starodubtsev and Anatoly Lukyanov asked for treason charges against them to be suspended until parliament had passed a new law on deputies' immunity.


"The court cannot stand between me and my electors," Interfax quoted Lukyanov as saying.


The two were among 12 former top Soviet officials on trial for trying to topple then-president Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. All pleaded not guilty when the trial started last April.


Lukyanov, former speaker of the Soviet parliament, and collective farm boss Starodubtsev were elected to the new legislature on Dec. 12, despite being on trial at the time. The parliament held its inaugural session on Tuesday.


The Supreme Court military bench rejected an earlier petition on Jan. 5, saying parliamentary immunity protected them from arrest and physical search, not from being tried for previous offences.


The judges reiterated this decision Wednesday.


Lukyanov was due to take a turn as acting speaker of the new lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, on Thursday. But the judges set a resumption of the trial for that day.


Former Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov was the only one of the defendants not present on Wednesday. The court was told he was in hospital recovering from an operation.


The nine-month-old trial has repeatedly been delayed by the declared illness of the elderly defendants or their advocates.