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Trial Of 'New Greatness' Members Begins In Moscow

Defendants Vladimir Kryukov and Peter Karamzin appear in court in Moscow on May 27.

MOSCOW -- The high-profile trial of members of the New Greatness youth activist group has begun in Moscow.

The eight young men and women on trial have been charged with creating an extremist group.

The defendants were arrested in March 2018 and four of them have been held in pretrial detention.

One of the defendants, Anna Pavlikova, was 17 at the time of her arrest. She spent several months under house arrest, which sparked mass protests in Moscow and other cities.

Those charged say they had turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement after the move was proposed by one of their members.

Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

In October, peaceful demonstrations to support members of the group were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities across Russia. Police detained dozens of protesters.

In April, one of the members of the group, Pavel Rebrovsky, was sentenced to 29 months in prison.

Earlier, another member of the group, Rustam Rustamov, received a suspended 18-month prison sentence.

Both pleaded guilty and cut deals with investigators.