Court upholds sentence of Russian teenager jailed for six years on terror charges

Yegor Balazeykin. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov

Yegor Balazeykin. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov

An appeals court in St. Petersburg has upheld the six-year sentence given to a Russian teenager who was convicted on terror charges for trying to set fire to two military recruitment offices.

Yegor Balazeykin, 17, will remain at a juvenile detention centre until he turns 19, when he will complete the remainder of his sentence at a strict regime penal colony. His defence team said it planned to appeal the ruling further.

During a court hearing on Wednesday, the prosecution said that Balazeykin’s guilt was “absolutely proven”. In a statement to court, Balazeykin noted that he was being tried under the same article as the gunmen accused of staging the Moscow concert hall terror attack.

“I am humiliated to be put in the same category as these people,” Balazeykin said. “More than ever I realise now that I was wrongly convicted. Someday I will get out of prison, and I will know what conscience is. But these people who convicted me, how will they live? What will they tell their children?”

Balazeykin’s mother Tatyana has branded the ruling “barbaric”, adding that the judge had not taken into account Balazeykin’s congenital autoimmune hepatitis, which causes liver fibrosis that is advancing rapidly in prison.

“My son’s life is under threat. By not taking [his disability] into account, the court has sentenced Yegor to death,” Tatyana Balazeykina said.


Balazeykin, his mother and father in court today. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov

Balazeykin was sentenced to six years in prison in November for throwing Molotov cocktails that failed to ignite at two military recruitment offices. While he was initially charged with hooliganism, investigators later decided to charge him under far more serious anti-terrorism legislation instead.

Balazeykin’s lawyer argued that there has been no criminal intent behind his actions that would warrant terror charges, demanding that the sentence be overturned as illegal and unjustified. “He did not try to intimidate the population, he did not try to influence the authorities decision making, he did not make any demands on them either verbally or in writing,” his lawyer Sergey Loktev said. “Most importantly, Yegor did not pose a risk to human life.”

Yegor’s parents. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov

Yegor’s parents. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov

His parents also accused the prosecution of providing insufficient evidence that the incendiary liquid that Balazeykin threw at the recruitment office was indeed a Molotov cocktail. They also noted that their son’s mental state had not been taken into account, given that his uncle had died fighting in Ukraine shortly before the arson attempts.

Balazeykin has maintained his anti-war stance during the court proceedings. “I’m not asking to be acquitted. I have nothing to justify myself for. I justify myself to me, and my conscience can judge me,” he said in his closing words to court in November.

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