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    Moscow court to sentence man for imperial statue attacks

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    A court in the Russian capital will hand down a sentence Thursday to a member of an extremist group convicted of targeting monuments to Russia's imperial family in 1997.

    MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - A court in the Russian capital will hand down a sentence Thursday to a member of an extremist group convicted of targeting monuments to Russia's imperial family in 1997.

    On Tuesday, a jury in the Moscow City Court found Igor Gubkin, a member of the so-called Revolutionary Military Council, guilty of blowing up a memorial to Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, in the Moscow Region. He had also sought to blow up a 95-meter (310 ft) bronze statue to Tsar Peter the Great on the Moscow River in protest against the proposed reburial of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, who has been ensconced in a mausoleum on Red Square since his death in 1924 but whose removal has been a source of controversy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Defense lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky said the prosecution was seeking a 21-year sentence for Gubkin.

    "The state prosecutor asked the court to convict Gubkin of terrorism, the illegal acquisition, possession and transportation of explosives and explosive devices, illegal manufacturing of explosive devices, and fraud," the lawyer said.

    The jury said Gubkin deserved leniency in the imperial statue cases - but not on the charges of fraud - and the attorney said he had asked for the charges relating to the Peter the Great plot to be dismissed because his client had changed his mind and failed to go through with the attack.

    The jurors also acquitted Gubkin of organizing a revolutionary council and attempted a coup d'etat.

    Agranovsky also said the court had stopped criminal proceedings against Gubkin on charges of trying to blow up a gas distribution plant in the Moscow Region town of Lyubertsy in 1997 for a lack of proof.

    "Gubkin has been in custody since August 2, 1997, but the crime was committed in November of that year," he said.

    Gubkin pleaded not guilty at the trial, which was held behind closed doors.

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