Former Rīga councilor could go to prison for Russian war support

After a call to donate funds to Russian occupation forces in Ukraine, the prosecutor's office is seeking a two-year prison sentence for former Rīga City Council deputy Igors Kuzmuks. The trial is still ongoing, Latvian Television reported on September 4.

A video shows the pro-Kremlin propagandist in Ukraine, Vladimir Rogov, who calls for money and equipment to Russian occupation forces and praises the invaders. This video was distributed in a variety of pro-Kremlin Internet resources. On Telegram, it was also shared by the former Rīga City Council Member Kuzmuks. 

The prosecutor in the case, Kaspars Zgirskis, said: “[The call is] to provide material technical security and funding to the Russian armed forces so that, with even more power, they can occupy Ukrainian territory, continue aggression, continue to commit crimes, deport Ukrainian children, force Ukrainians to flee, and many other horrors.”

Regarding the collection of material assistance to the armed forces of the invaders, the Criminal Law of Latvia provides for the deprivation of liberty for up to 10 years. Given that Kuzmuks himself did not prepare the call but merely distributed it further, the prosecutor called on the court to impose a lesser sentence on him, but nevertheless a real deprivation of liberty.

Zgirskis said in court: “Given all this, I asked the court to declare Igors Kuzmuks guilty and punish him with a custodial term of two years and a probation supervision for one year.”

The accused's lawyer Imma Jansone said that her client was still not guilty, he had only republished the video without comments or calls. The lawyer also added that Kuzmuks was discriminated against because of his political beliefs and because of his ethnicity as a Russian.

Kuzmuks declined to comment on the sentence sought by the prosecutor after Monday's court hearing.

The fundraising video in Kuzmuks' social networks is no longer available, but they are full of other Kremlin propaganda materials, the disdainful mocking of Ukraine and Western countries, praise of the foreign policy of Russian armed forces and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and nostalgia for Soviet times.

Kuzmuks is a coach at the Rīga Gymnastics School under the authority of the municipality. The school principal, Broņislavs Konstantinovičs, informed Latvian Television that he was following the proceedings.

“There is a chance he will be laid off from work. He has been warned. [..] But we are looking forward to the court's decision,” Konstantinovičs said.

The Riga City Court will continue its proceedings on September 12, when the accused will be given the last word and could be sentenced.

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