08 April 2021
Topic of the day
Court of appeals declines to soften sentence given to leader of Aum Shinrikyo's Russian cell
Moscow, April 8, Interfax - A military appellate court has upheld the sentence handed down to Mikhail Ustyantsev, the head of the Russian cell of the community Aum Shinrikyo (banned in Russia), who was convicted for creating a terrorist organization on the territory of Russia.
"The sentenced handed down to Ustyantsev has been upheld," the court told Interfax.
Thus, the appellate court found no grounds for a reversal or softening of the sentence.
The Southern District Military Court sentenced Ustyantsev to 15 years in a high-security penal colony in late November 2020.
He was found guilty on charges of setting up a terrorist community, organizing the activities of a terrorist organization, creating a religious or social organization whose work is associated with violence against citizens or the infliction of other harm to their health, and heading such a community.
As reported earlier, Russian Federal Security Service officers put a stop to Ustyantsev's activities when he was organizing the latest gathering of cell members on May 1, 2018. He was later arrested.
According to investigators, Ustyantsev was the head of a Russian cell of Aum Shinrikyo, whose activities are banned in accordance with a 2016 decision of the Russian Supreme Court. According to data from the Russian Investigative Committee, he organized the dissemination of a religious doctrine among residents of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Volgograd "encouraging regular adepts to give him money, which he passed to the Japanese leaders of the terrorist community Aum Shinrikyo, thus financing terrorism."
According to the court's information, the cell held classes and seminars in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, the Moscow and Leningrad regions, in Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Georgia, Turkey, and Morocco. In order to spread the Aum Shinrikyo doctrine and take the money raised by his associates, Ustyantsev paid numerous visits to the Volgograd region, where he met with followers of these teachings, provided them with religious objects, religious literature, taught them practices, and raised more than one million rubles. He was detained during one such visit.
Ustyantsev's accomplices have been declared wanted.
Members of Aum Shinrikyo, a religious syncretic extremist sect founded by Shoko Asahara, released poisonous sarin gas in the Tokyo metro in March 1995. A total of 13 people were killed and about 6,000 were hurt in the attack. Thirteen members of the sect, including Asahara, were later sentenced to death. In all, 188 Aum Shinrikyo members faced charges as part of that case.