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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

12 Years for Murderer of Activist in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Petersburg City Court on Tuesday sentenced the man convicted of killing anti-fascist activist Timur Kacharava to 12 years in prison.

A jury last week convicted Andrei Shabalin of stabbing Kacharava to death in a 2005 mob attack in central St. Petersburg that was classified as a hate crime.

Human rights activists have long bemoaned the light sentences of those convicted of hate crimes, and Shabalin's 12-year sentence was much harsher than those handed down Tuesday to the six other men convicted in connection with the slaying.

Andrei Moskovkin received a three-year sentence, Sergei Panaskov and Sergei Golvlev two-year sentences, while Valery Yefremov, Kirill Semyonov and Dmitry Kushakov each received three-year suspended sentences.

The seven defendants were aged 17 to 20 years old when the crime was committed.

Kacharava's mother watched in silence as the defendants cheered and waved at their parents and friends from their courtroom cage.

One of the defendant's mothers shouted, "I told you it's going to be fine."

The sentences left Kacharava's friends bewildered.

"According to this trial, the person who slit Timur's throat is a murderer but the people holding Timur and preventing him from resisting did not assist in a murder," one anti-fascist activist, who asked not to be identified, said in the courtroom. "This is absurd."

Lead prosecutor Svetlana Yefimenko said the prosecution would not appeal, calling the sentences "fair" because most of the culprits were juveniles when the murder was committed and most of them pleaded guilty and cooperated with the investigation.

Prosecutors had requested a 14-year sentence for Shabalin. Konstantin Korotkov, Semyonov's lawyer, said Shabalin and Moskovkin might appeal.

The defendants were found guilty of attacking Kacharava and his fellow activist Maxim Zgibai at a bookstore in November 2005. While Kacharava died of blood loss shortly after the stabbing, Zgibai survived despite multiple knife wounds and severe brain damage.

Prior to the attack, Kacharava, who had been targeted by ultranationalist youth before, complained to his friends that he was being followed. Three days prior to his murder, he told his girlfriend that he was concerned for his life.

Human rights campaigners have complained that authorities have been prone to clouding the real motives of attacks by classifying them as instances of hooliganism or alcohol-fueled homicide.