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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Octogenarian Sentenced to 10 Years of Hard Labor

There appears to be little leeway for seasoned citizens who land in the criminal justice system in the Krasnodar region's Labinsk district.
The Labinsk District Court in the southern region last week sentenced 82-year-old Boris Smoly to 10 years in a maximum security prison for shooting and killing a fireman whom he mistook for a drinking buddy who had beaten him up earlier in the day, according to the local NTK television network.
The tragic series of events played out on Sept. 11, 2008, when a pile of trash went up in flames outside Smoly's home in the town of Labinsk, deep in Don Cossack country.
Firefighters arrived at the scene and extinguished the small blaze, after which fireman Alexander Savchenko decided to inquire with Smoly exactly how the garbage caught fire. Tragically, Savchenko never got the chance to ask any questions. When the fireman tried to enter the home, Smoly fired at him with a hunting rifle, striking him in the head with a bullet, killing him on the spot.
A tense standoff ensued, senior investigator Roman Zavgorodny told Rossia television. "After committing the crime, the criminal barricaded himself inside with the gun and would not negotiate," Zavgorodny said. "We were forced to use tear gas."
Smoly told the court that he mixed Savchenko up with his drinking buddy who had beaten him up earlier in the day, NTK reported. Smolny said he thought his convivial companion had returned to continue administering the beating and that he fired the gun in self-defense.
Smoly's story does not sound implausible, given the frequency with which drunken acquaintances maim and kill each other in Russia, including with grenades. The judge, however, found neither his testimony nor his advanced age sufficient grounds for significant leniency.
In addition to 10 years of hard labor, the Labinsk District Court ordered Smoly to pay 500,000 rubles ($14,000) in damages to Savchenko's widow. Smoly's lawyer, meanwhile, has appealed the verdict.