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Mirilashvili Handed 12-Year Jail Term

Published: August 5, 2003 (Issue # 890)



  • Mikhail Mirilashvili sitting behind bars during a recent court hearing in his trial.
    Photo: Maria Krugovaya / For The St. Petersburg Times

The Leningrad District Military Court on Friday handed down a 12-year jail term to local businessperson Mikhail Mirilashvili, who has spent the last 2 1/2 years in jail on charges of creating a criminal gang, kidnapping and attempted murder.

While dropping the attempted-murder charge, the court gave its verdict based on articles 33, 126 and 127 of the Russian Criminal Code. The articles cover illegitimate entry into a person's living space, kidnapping and illegitimate deprivation of freedom, respectively.

Three other defendents, Mark Sidler, Andrei Demenko and Yevgeny Kazmirchuk, were acquitted of charges of withholding information relevant to the case, the illegal sale of precious metals and the illegal storage of weapons, respectively.

Defendent Viktor Petrov was sentenced to 5 months and 17 days in jail for storing ammunition.

Mirilashvili's attorneys angrily denounced the conviction, which they labeled "ridiculous" because, while the alleged kidnappers walked free, Mirilashvili got a jail term for organizing a kidnapping with a group of people yet to be identified.

"This decision is no surprise to us," Mirilashvili spokesperson Dmitry Mirapolsky said in a telephone interview on Monday. "We expected this would happen."

"It proves once again that the target of this hunt is specifically Mikhail Mirilashvili and no-one else," he said. "We're going to appeal to a higher court, and this situation will be cleared up there."

According to Mirapolsky, Mirilashvili's final statement to the court on July 25 alleged that city Deputy Prosecutor Boris Salmaksov was demanding a bribe of $1 million to close the case.

"He's already been singing this song for more than a year and half," Salmaksov said in a telephone interview on Monday. "I'm not going to justify myself to anyone, because there is nothing to justify."

Salmaksov said he is still sure that more careful work by investigators would have produced more evidence.

"The case turned out as it did because there was evidence against [Mirilashvili] and no evidence against the other suspects," he said. "There are tapes of telephone conversations with [Mirilashvili's] voice. There are tapes with other people's voices, but Mirilashvili says he wasn't in the office [from where the calls were made] at the time, and doesn't know who these people are."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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