MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow’s highest court sentenced a leader of a militant neo-Nazi group to life in prison Friday after he was convicted of ordering five brutal killings, including that of a prominent human rights lawyer.
A jury earlier this month found 33-year-old Ilya Goryachev guilty of ordering five killings, setting up and running an extremist cell, and illegally possessing firearms.
The Moscow City Court said in a statement Friday the life sentence reflected the “exceptional danger of the defendant for society.”
Several activists of Goryachev’s group, called The Militant Organization of Russian Nationalists, were sentenced to jail time earlier this year.
Goryachev, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was hiding in Serbia before he was extradited in 2013.
Among those murdered by Goryachev’s group is lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was shot after leaving a news conference near the Kremlin in January 2009. Markelov, 34, was appealing the early release of a Russian military officer convicted of killing a young Chechen woman. A journalist walking with Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, also died in the attack. A Russian nationalist extremist from Goryachev’s group was sentenced to life in prison for the killings in 2011.
Recent high-profile trials of neo-Nazis like Goryachev have been perceived as the Kremlin’s attempt to curb xenophobic views that have been increasingly popular in Russia in recent years.