New East Digital Archive

Russian court finds Ukrainian library head guilty of inciting hatred

6 June 2017

Yesterday the former head of a Ukrainian library in Moscow was convicted of extremism and embezzlement, in a case human rights groups have condemned as politically motivated.

Moscow’s Meshchansky District court handed 59-year-old librarian Natalya Sharina, who is a Russian citizen, a four-year sentence for inciting hatred against Russians and also for embezzlement of library funds.

Ms Sharina was arrested after armed police raided the Library of Ukrainian Literature in late October 2015, when officers allegedly found banned anti-Russian publications within the library’s collection. In April 2016, investigators additionally charged her with embezzlement, accusing Ms Sharina of using library funds to pay her legal fees for an earlier case against her. She has been under house arrest for much of the pretrial period, and the library has since been shut down.

During the trial, Ms Sharina denied the charges, insisting that the offending banned literature had been planted in the library by police officers.

“The state prosecutor admitted herself during the proceedings that this was a political case,” Ms Sharina said in a press statement after the verdict.

The case has been widely denounced by human rights groups, including Amnesty International.

“This highly politicised case runs totally counter to justice and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary. [...] The prosecution has exploited the highly charged anti-Ukrainian atmosphere that is prevalent in Russia at the moment, while the court simply dismissed key evidence for the defence,” Amnesty’s Denis Krivosheev commented.

Source: RFE/RL