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Verdict In Moscow-Based Ukrainian Library Director's Hate-Crime Trial Postponed

  • RFE/RL

Natalya Sharina in a Moscow courtroom (file photo)

A Moscow court has postponed the verdict in the trial of Natalya Sharina, a librarian who is charged with inciting hatred in a case that is steeped in the confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv and has been denounced by rights activists.

Meshchansky District Court spokeswoman Yulia Bocharova said the judge will pronounce the verdict and sentence on June 5 instead of June 1. No reason was given.

Russian authorities have charged Sharina, the former head of Moscow's Ukrainian Literature Library, with inciting ethnic hatred and embezzlement.

The hate-crime charge stems from the Russian state's claim that her library's collection included books that are banned in Russia as extremist, including works by Ukrainian ultranationalist Dmytro Korchynskiy.

Sharina was detained in October 2015, amid growing animus between Moscow and Kyiv over Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In April 2016, investigators additionally charged her with embezzlement, claiming that she used library funds to pay for her legal defense in a separate extremism case against her that was dismissed in 2013.

Her lawyer said the authorities had "trumped up" new charges after realizing their initial case against his client was too weak.

Sharina, who is under house arrest, has rejected all the allegations as politically motivated. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial considers her a political prisoner.

On May 29, the state prosecutor asked the judge to find Sharina guilty and give her a five-year suspended sentence, which would mean she would not be imprisoned.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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