Sentencing of former intelligence officer Vladimir Kvachkov - live updates
MOSCOW, February 8 - RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) hosts a live text broadcast of Vladimir Kvachkov's sentencing from the Moscow City Court. The former intelligence officer stands accused of having masterminded a coup d’état plot in what has come to be popularly known as the Crossbow Coup case.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, though prosecutors are seeking only 14.
16:04 Well, that's all for today. Thanks a lot for joining us, see you next time!
15:54 The crowd is beginning to make its way out of the courtroom. The tense atmosphere outside seems to be calming down a bit.
15:51 The bailiffs seem to be struggling under the pressure.
15:47 About a hundred Kvachkov fans have assembled in the hallway outside the courtroom, chanting commands to set the former colonel free. So far, no fights have erupted.
15:45 As the judge exits the courtroom, shoults of "Viva heroes!" emanate from the hallway.
15:43 The fact that they've remained in custody since their December 2010 arrests will count against the sentence as time served.
15:41 Kvachkov has been sentenced to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony, and his co-accused Kiselev to 11. The prosecutors had initially sought 14 years for Kvachkov, though he faced a maximum of 20.
15:40 Being elderly is not grounds for sentencing mitigation, Judge Melekhin lets it be known. Kvachkov is 64 years old.
15:37 Because RAPSI cares about the clean criminal record of our readers, take note: Judge Melekhin opposes the idea that Russian citizens have a fundamental right to overthrow their own government. While referenda, elections, etc. are fine - he can respect these rights - coups are not.
15:30 Judge Melekhin is now drawing our attention to the results of various examinations conducted during the investigation stage.
15:25 As a matter of fact, the judge says that during proceedings both Kvachkov and Kiselev rejected the claims of having been acquainted before. But one of the witnesses testified that saw Kiselev visiting Kvachkov. However, later that witness changed his mind, writing it off as a mistake. This tidbit was meant to illustrate the judge's lack of trust in the witness testimony revocations.
15:!5 Judge Melekhin adds that he's suspicious of those witnesses claiming not to have discussed coup plans with Kvachkov.
15:14 The judge lets it be known that as a whole, he sides with the prosecutors. On everything. Between the arguments, the evidence, and everything else gathered in support of their case, he is satisfied with Kvachkov's guilty verdict.
15:10 Among other pieces of evidence deemed relevant, Judge Melekhin calls attention to a foreign passport, military maps, and various forms of propaganda.
15:06 The judge adds that there was a time when Kvachkov was a highly-ranked and regarded colonel. Thus his words carried a lot of weight.
15:03 Judge Melekhin recalls the fact that Kvachkov expressed his discontent with the acting government, which in his words might be a proper motive for plotting to overthrow said government.
14:57 Nearly half of the witness testimonies have been read out at this point.
14:55 RAPSI's correspondent on the ground reports that the courtoom connectivity is abysmal. She's having a tough time getting information out of there.
14:54 Or you can check out our Russian language broadcast here.
14:47 During the proceedings several witnesses revoked earlier statements, claiming that they had previously testified under the pressure of witness intimidation. But the judge considered the relevant information and as a rule reinstated what what was said at the pre-trial hearings.
14:45 Under the guise of training, airsoft tournaments were organized. A combat unit was established by Kvachkov, according to the verdict. This was based on witness testimony that was later revoked on the basis of witness intimidation. The court, however, chooses to trust the initial statement.
14:40 Kvachkov himself seems nonplussed, sitting nonchalantly in the courtroom cage as the judge reads through the evidence.
14:39 From time to time the door to the courtroom opens and those present can hardly hear the judge.
14:38 The scene outside of the courtroom remains chaotic; those who didn't make it inside are enraged.
14:35 Judge Melekhin is now describing witnesses that claimed to have discussed the possibility of taking part in the planned coup.
14:32 The judge refused Kvachkov's defense motion to reject the wiretap records as inadmissible evidence in the case as those records were taken during investigation into another case regarding privatization czar Anatoly Chubais assasination attempt.
14:27 The coup was meant to be launched on June 24, 2010, the judge tells us.
14:25 The judge notes that Alexander Kiselev, another defendant in the case, has likewise refused to plead guilty.
14:17 Kvachkov has refused to admit guilt based on his refusal to accept the legitimacy of the Russian political system. He considers the ruling administration’s power unconstitutional.
14:16 The decidedly unpunctual Oksana Mikhalkina, Kvackov’s lawyer, just entered the courtroom. Without skipping a beat, the judge carries on reading the judgment: “… a Kalashnikov rifle, twelve magazines, granades...”
14:14 Those still in the hall are so angry they can barely be contained. The bailiffs are struggling to hold them back. Hollers of "the court should be open!" emanate through the courtroom.
14:12 The judge says that in December 2009, Kvachkov conducted reconnaissance in the city of Kovrov, where a rebellion was to be launched. A successful armed rebellion there would in turn trigger a domino effect, and rebellions would spread to other regions.
14:09 Judge Melekhin is sifting through Kvachkov's case file, reading out details such as meetings that the former spy had with opposition activists, etc.
14:06 The judgment is being read by Judge Pavel Melekhin.
14:03 The trial has begun. Kvachkov has been found guilty.
14:02 Camera crews have been allowed into the courtroom as well. Bailiffs are assuring us that everyone will get in as there's enough space.
14:00 The attorneys were just called into the courtroom. Kvachkov's supporters are standing in the hall. They're easy to spot, with their military garments and medals of honor.
13:57 The Moscow City Court is buzzing as two highly controversial cases are being heard here today. The highly anticipated case of former prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko, who was involved in a high-profile illegal casino case and recently extradited from Poland, is being considered on the third floor, while the biggest court room on the second floor has been reserved for Kvachkov.
13:49 Good afternoon! Thank you for joining us today during the final round in the action-packed hearings against Vladimir Kvachkov, the former intelligence officer charged with having organized and attempted an armed coup aimed at overthrowing the Russian government. Rumor has it, crossbows were to be the weapon of choice. With you today are Maria Gusarova, Vladimir Yaduta, and Ingrid Burke.
The Crossbow Coup
Kvachkov presently stands accused of having masterminded a coup d’état plot wherein he and a small group of his followers would oust the government. According to Kvachkov, authorities claim he intended to carry out the coup with a small team of followers armed with crossbows.
The former intelligence officer has denied the charges, claiming that they lack any legitimate basis. Kvachkov said he has been accused of organizing a group of recruits from his People's Liberation Front of Russia armed with crossbows to carry out a coup. From his own words the indictment is based on testimonies of one People's Liberation Front member accused of extremism.
Kvachkov himself has stressed that the accusations against him are groundless and has so far denied his guilt.
He was arrested and charged with organizing a coup plot just one day after he was acquitted of charges relating to the attempted assassination of privatization czar Anatoly Chubais.