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Russian Private Sentenced For Deserting Unit 11 Years Ago

Andrei Popov appears in the courtroom in Saratov on March 13.
SARATOV, Russia -- A Russian military court has found an army private guilty of deserting his unit in 2000 and sentenced him to two years in a minimum-security labor camp.

Andrei Popov, 30, was sentenced in the southwestern city of Saratov.

He went missing 11 years ago while serving his obligatory two-year military service, then reappeared in his native town of Yershov in August.

He claimed he had been kidnapped in 2000 and held for years as a slave laborer at a brick factory in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Daghestan.

Popov was arrested shortly after his reappearance.

He later changed his story, saying he had, in fact, deserted the army in 2000.

Some Russian human rights activists say they believe he was forced to make that confession.

With ITAR-TASS reporting