10 Jan 2018 16:26

Mozhaisky Academy student accused of terrorism recruited classmates via messenger service - detectives

ST. PETERSBURG. Jan 10 (Interfax) - The Moscow District Military Court held a visiting session in St. Petersburg on Wednesday to start hearing the case of Mozhaisky Military Space Academy student Vadim Osipov, who is accused of plotting an act of terrorism and encouraging classmates to join him, an Interfax correspondent reported.

A panel of judges chaired by Evgeny Zubov is hearing the case at the Leningrad District Military Court.

"By means of in-person meetings and communication, his [social network] page and the Telegram cross-platform messenger service for smart phones and other devices installed in his phone, Osipov was persuading and offering Tatarinov, Avanesyan, Andriyevsky, Krupin, and Mikutsky to perpetrate a planned terror attack by seizing their barracks, stealing the weapons and ammunition they were responsible for protecting, blowing up and setting fire to the barracks and the adjoining parade ground, and opening massive fire on other students," a military investigator said, reading from the indictment.

The 18-year-old student from Orenburg was knowingly acting "to destabilize the activity of the Russian authorities and the academy's military command."

The court heard testimony from witnesses.

Other students from Mozhaisky Academy have testified in the Osipov case, international human rights group lawyer Vitaly Cherkasov, who represents the defendant, told Interfax earlier.

"All of the students testified early on; they viewed Osipov's talk about terror attacks and explosions as some kind of grim humor and attached little importance to it. According to the detectives, Osipov was recruiting his classmates for some crimes but failed to make them submit to his will," Cherkasov said.

There was no written plan for the terror attack, and Osipov had no intention to perpetrate it, Cherkasov said. He described Osipov as a sensitive young man with a rich imagination.

Osipov was arrested on April 13, 2017 and charged with abetting terrorism. He pleaded not guilty.

According to the defense, the charges were brought after a teacher saw a page in a notebook depicting the scheme of the barracks and a plan to seize it in Osipov's belongings on April 4, the day after the St. Petersburg metro attack. The student said he wanted to find the barracks' weaknesses and made frequent jokes about terror attacks but did not plan to do anything. The media said his mobile phone contained a book included on the federal list of extremist materials.