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Russia Jails Men for Funding Far-Right Ukraine Group

St. Petersburg Courts Press Service

Russia on Thursday handed long jail sentences to a Ukrainian man and another individual for financing an ultranationalist group in Ukraine by selling illegal drugs.

Thousands of Russians have been detained for protesting Russia's large-scale military campaign against Ukraine and authorities have handed out long jail terms to people accused of providing material support to Ukraine.

The court in St. Petersburg said Ukrainian citizen Alexander Tsepelev and Alexander Pankratyev — whose nationality was not specified — were guilty of "financing extremist activities," jailing them for 16 and 17 years respectively.

"The defendants pleaded guilty in full," the court said.

It added that the men had produced mephedrone, an amphetamine-type drug, in an apartment in southern St. Petersburg, transferring the money from its sale to the Pravy Sektor group.

Tsepelev was aware that Russia had labeled Pravy Sektor extremist and shared its criminal goals and ideology, the court said.

He transferred more than 1,000,000 rubles ($11,000) to the group through an intermediary between November 2021 and Feb. 24, 2022 — when Russia launched its assault on Ukraine.

Ukrainian far-right group Pravy Sektor made a name for itself during the Maidan protests in Kyiv in early 2014, before evolving into a political party.

Thousands of its members fought against Kremlin-backed separatists in east Ukraine in the wake of the pro-democracy protests. They were later absorbed into the regular Ukrainian military.

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