Eastern Ukraine fighter from Latvia starts five-year jail sentence

The Supreme Court (Senate) Department of Criminal Cases has left the Rīga Regional Court verdict unchanged, which sentences Daugavpils resident Artem Skripnik to five years in jail for taking part in the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine by training new soldiers, according to rhe LETA news agency on December 12.

The verdict has taken effect and cannot be appealed any further.

Senate Representative Baiba Kataja, not naming the convicted person, indicated that the Senate recognized that during the appeal the court verified all of the evidence, evaluated the relevance, admissibility and credibility in accordance with the demands of the Criminal Procedure Law.

The Senate concluded that the appeals court used regulatory acts and detailed evaluations to substantiate their conclusions, including that the accused:

"as part of an armed military unit, using firearms, trained new armed conflict participants in the construction and use of firearms, his actions can be evaluated as active and unlawful participation in armed conflict, directed against the territorial integrity of another country".

Kataja explained that the appeals court agreed with the court of first instance's verdict.

As previously reported, The 'Human rights in Ukraine' website has published an informative account of the ongoing trial in Latvia of Artem Skripnik, 26, who is accused of fighting for Russia-backed rebels in the east of the country.

The website is run by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and gives a balanced account of both the legal case against Skripnik and the basis of his defense.

There is also information about similar cases in Estonia and the United Kingdom in which citizens of those countries are accused of fighting alongside rebel forces in the self-proclaimed breakaway republics, who are supported by Russia but not widely recognized by the international community and remain part of Ukraine under international law. 

The report includes comments in support of Skripnik from activist Vladimirs Lindermans, a notorious figure in Latvia best known for calling a failed referendum to make Russian an official state language and for waving the flag of the rebel regions at a May 9 event in Riga several years ago.

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