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    Court cuts prison term for Tsar-statue attacker by two years - 1

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    MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Supreme Court reduced Thursday the prison term of a member of an extremist group convicted by a Moscow court of targeting monuments to Russia's imperial family in 1997 from 19 to 17 years.

    The hearing was held behind closed doors.

    On August 31, 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 sentenced to 19 years in prison.

    Gubkin was also convicted on the same day of trying to blow up a 95-meter (310 ft) bronze statue of Tsar Peter the Great on the River Moskva in the capital 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.

    Before Gubkin was sentenced, his lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky said the prosecution had asked for a 21-year prison sentence.

    "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 other 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 earlier.

    Agranovsky said the court had 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.

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