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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suspended Sentence for Ultranationalist

A Moscow region court Wednesday convicted and issued a two-year suspended sentence to a veteran ultranationalist for his role in an attack on a police officer that involved a hammer, an ax and a metal rod.

Judge Irina Lisenko of the Ozyory City Court convicted Alexander Barkashov, one-time leader of the notorious ultranationalist group Russian National Unity, of assaulting an officer from the regional police's organized crime department in December 2005.

Prosecutors had asked for 4 1/2 years in prison for Barkashov and four years in prison for each of his three accomplices -- Yevgeny Khrebtov, 25, Sergei Kolotov, 44 and Viktor Afanasyev, 32.

All three were convicted on Wednesday and received 20-month sentences. They were released having served out their time while in detention.

Despite the fact that Barkashov will not serve time, his lawyer, Yury Kachan, said he would appeal.

"Of course we will appeal the sentence, as we consider it unfounded and illegal," Kachan said, Interfax reported.

Barkashov could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors say Barkashov and his accomplices were drunk on the night of Dec. 2, 2005, when they attacked the officer with a hammer, a metal rod and an ax in the village of Sennitsa-2.

The officer escaped with a concussion and flesh wounds, regional prosecutor's office spokeswoman Yelena Rossokhina said.

"The officer's car was also damaged," she said.

Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation the same day, and Barkashov was charged a week later with resisting arrest, hooliganism and assaulting an officer.

In its heyday in the 1990s, Barkashov's Russian National Unity claimed 20,000 members and was not only a political party but also a well-organized paramilitary organization.

"It presented a real political problem to authorities," said Alexander Tarasov, an expert on ultranationalist youth. "It was a second wave of fascism that threatened to cause trouble."

Barkashov splintered Russian National Unity from the influential Pamyat organization of the 1980s. He was a Pamyat council member and had grown tired of inaction.

He promoted the Nazi swastika symbol, the centerpiece of the movement's imagery.

In 1993, Barkashov was among those who defended the White House against former President Boris Yeltsin's forces. He was imprisoned but later amnestied.

A year later Barkashov published a book titled "The Alphabet of Russian Nationalism," which served as the group's manifesto.

The movement gained momentum, and in 2000, at the height of his popularity, Barkashov ran for president.

But infighting in the movement prompted Barkashov to break off and form a new group under the name Barkashov's Guard, though he was able to garner only a fraction of the support he once had.

"That is why I very strongly doubt that there were any political motives" behind Barkashov's arrest and conviction, Tarasov said.