Court process ongoing in 'Ukrainian flag attack' case

The prosecutor asks the court to sentence Valērijs Lazarevs, who beat up a young man a year ago and demanded that the Ukrainian flag be removed from his shoulders, to two years' conditional sentence in a court hearing on June 14.

One year and less than a month ago, in Āgenskalns, after a Ukrainian support event, the victim received two strikes about having a Ukrainian flag on his shoulders.

“All this crime was done only because of the Ukrainian flag. As we know, Russian propaganda is very influential in Latvia. And a number of people are under its influence,” the victim said at the hearing.

The perpetrator declined to answer the questions in court. After a while, it was found that Lazarevs, who worked in a building management company, did not understand the official language. Therefore, an interpreter was invited. The defendant fully acknowledged his guilt in court.

The prosecutor does not doubt it was a hate crime. “Hooliganism, causing bodily harm, but as the aggravating circumstance is the condition of a hate crime,” said Prosecutor Herta Miķelsone.

She requests that Lazarevs be sentenced to two years' conditional imprisonment and a two-year probation.

“Determination of the probationary period will be a more intrusive punishment than a real custodial sentence, as it will stimulate him to refrain from committing a criminal offense and to draw conclusions on his behavior,” the prosecutor said.

The defenders of the victim remain convinced that real deprivation of liberty is needed.

“We don't see a really different type of punishment that could make this person stop and think. He stopped the car, pulled on his motorcyclist's gloves, and went directly into the attack on a young man holding a Ukrainian flag around his shoulders,” said sworn lawyer, Santa Oborenko.

“My defendant admits his guilt in full, regrets, has indemnified the damages,” explained the accused's representative, Inese Šulte.

On Thursday, June 15, Lazarevs will say the final word in court. Then a verdict is expected.

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