Court in Russia’s Chechnya sentences man to 3-1/2 years for Koran burning – TASS

By Thomson Reuters Feb 27, 2024 | 8:02 AM

TBILISI (Reuters) – A court in Grozny, capital of the Russian region of Chechnya, on Tuesday sentenced a Russian man to three-and-a-half years in prison for burning a Koran, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Nikita Zhuravel, 20, was detained in May 2023 under a law against offending religious believers’ feelings after he burned a copy of the Koran outside a mosque in Volgograd, 800 km (500 miles) from Grozny.

Russian investigators transferred his case to Chechnya. The Investigative Committee, which handles serious crimes, said this was because they received many messages from Chechnya residents asking to be designated injured parties.

Chechnya has an overwhelmingly Muslim population and its pro-Kremlin leader Ramzan Kadyrov has portrayed himself as Russia’s foremost defender of the Islamic faith.

TASS reported that Zhuravel pleaded guilty to the charges, repeatedly apologised in court, and said he had not thought about the consequences of his actions. The Investigative Committee has said that he was paid to burn the Koran by Ukrainian intelligence.

Russia introduced its law against offending the feelings of religious believers in 2013 as part of the Kremlin’s turn towards conservative social values.

(Reporting by Felix Light; Editing by Angus MacSwan)