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Beness Aijo sentenced to two and half years

On Monday May 17, the Riga Vidzeme Suburb Court sentenced controversial 'National Bolshevik' Beness Aijo to two years and six months in prison, as well as probation supervision for one year, for his calls to abolish Latvia's independence.

Aijo, who was sentenced in absentia as he is living in Russia, had been found guilty of offenses provided for in Articles 81, 82 and 83 of the Criminal Law, involving public calls to abolish Latvia's independence, sovereignty, and territorial unity.

The judgment can be appealed within ten days from the date of availability of the full judgment, which will be available on 31 May.

Aijo's lawyer Imma Jansone told the LETA newswire that Aijo will definitely file an appeal because he does not agree with the verdict.

Aijo was once known in Latvia as a member of the 'National Bolshevik Party'. He has been wanted for several years after publicly calling for the violent overthrow of the Latvian state in 2015. Aijo was summoned to appear in court, but fled Latvia, later popping up in the self-proclaimed "Luhansk People's Republic" army in the Donbas region of Ukraine and participated in combat operations, posting pictures online in uniform with weapons.

On February 19, 2015, changes to the Criminal Law came into force, which prohibit illegal participation in armed conflict abroad. In view of the above, the State Security Service (SSD) initiated new criminal proceedings against Aijo and in this case he was also declared wanted.

In 2019, Aijo was detained in the village of Yarenska, Russia, where he was found supporting activists who oppose the construction of a landfill. However, Russia refused to extradite Aijo to the Latvian authorities and granted him asylum.

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