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    Imperial statue attacker gets 19 years in prison

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    Moscow's City Court sentenced Thursday a member of an extremist group, convicted of targeting monuments to Russia's imperial family in 1997, to 19 years in prison.

    MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow's City Court sentenced Thursday a member of an extremist group, convicted of targeting monuments to Russia's imperial family in 1997, to 19 years in prison.

    On Tuesday, a Moscow City Court jury 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 was also convicted of trying to blow up a 95-meter (310 ft) bronze statue of Tsar Peter the Great on the Moscow River in protest against the proposed reburial of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, who has been in a mausoleum on Red Square since his death in 1924, but whose removal has been debated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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

    "The state prosecutor asked that the court convict Gubkin of terrorism, the illegal acquisition, possession and transportation of explosives and explosive devices, the illegal manufacture 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. His attorney said he asked that the charges relating to the Peter the Great plot 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 of attempting a coup d'etat.

    Gubkin misappropriated investments in the housing company he set up in the late 1990s to finance his organization, which sought to overthrow the "bourgeoisie and reinstate the Soviet regime and the dictatorship of the proletariat," the daily Kommersant reported.

    Agranovsky said the court discontinued 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 lack of proof.

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

    The lawyer said he would contest the ruling as the court misinterpreted the jury's verdict, which asked for greater leniency.

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

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