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Ukrainian Activist Expected To Be Released After Court Suspends Sentence

Ihor Movenko

A jailed Ukrainian activist is expected to be released after a court in Russian-controlled Crimea shortened and suspended his politically charged prison sentence.

A court in Sevastopol ruled on June 26 that Ihor Movenko's two-year prison sentence must be replaced by a one-year suspended sentence.

Movenko's lawyer, Oksana Zheleznyak, said she expected he will be released on June 27.

In early May, Movenko was convicted of promoting extremism and sentenced to two years in prison.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry protested the verdict and said it would work to secure Movenko's release.

Critics accuse the Russian authorities of fabricating charges against Ukrainian citizens as a reprisal for their opposition to Moscow's takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.

Russia seized Crimea in March 2014 after sending in troops, taking over key facilities, and staging a referendum deemed illegitimate by at least 100 countries in the United Nations.

The takeover of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine prompted the United States, the European Union, and others to impose targeted sanctions against selected Russian individuals and companies.