Nikita Zhuravel. Screenshot of the photo posted on the Telegram channel of the "Chechnya Today" News Agency on November 2, 2023 02.11.23, https://t.me/chechnyatoday/14249

15 February 2024, 22:39

Rights defenders doubt Zhuravel's testimonies

The testimonies of Nikita Zhuravel, accused of burning the Koran, must be questioned given the conditions in which he is kept in Chechnya, human rights defenders believe. Zhuravel's confession in court may be intended for gaining some court's leniency and indicate a plea bargain, but the words that he had acted not alone may aggravate the charges, lawyers have noted.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that Nikita Zhuravel was accused of violating the right to the freedom of conscience and religion, and of hooliganism. On February 12, he reported that he had burned the Koran in hopes of receiving a monetary reward.

According to investigators, the detainee had recorded a video of burning the Koran at the direction of the Ukrainian special services and received 10,000 roubles for that. He handed over the recording to an agent of Ukrainian special services, for whom he had also filmed military facilities.

A plea deal, in case Zhuravel concludes it, does not relieve him of responsibility, Alexei Golenko, a lawyer, has explained.

The law allows entering into a plea deal "with the aim of mitigating the punishment," and there is no violation in this, said Miki Arapiev, a lawyer at the Moscow Bar Association.

Zhuravel's confessions cannot be trusted in the conditions in which the trial is taking place, Svetlana Gannushkina*, the head of the "Civic Assistance" Committee*, believes.

"Should Zhuravel have confessed to killing John Kennedy, it would not surprise me. It is impossible to trust any confession given in the conditions where a stranger could have broken into the jail and beat an inmate up," Ms Gannushkina* has stated.

Alexander Verkhovsky, the head of the SOVA Information and Analytical Centre*, is also distrustful of Zhuravel's testimonies.

"In general, his behaviour does not seem to be ideologically motivated. The selfish motive looks more convincing," Mr Verkhovsky has stated.

On October 13, 2023, in court, Zhuravel apologized to Muslims for his action, but admitted guilt only in the very fact of burning the Koran down, stating that he had no motive for gross violation of the public order.

*Included by the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) into the register of foreign agents.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 15, 2024 at 00:21 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Alikhan Mamsurov Source: СK correspondent

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