Russia jails woman for trying to set fire to army aid collection point

A Russian court has upheld a six-year prison sentence against a woman it said tried to set fire to a military aid collection point, state media reported Friday, citing the Russian Security Service (FSB).

Investigators alleged that Valerya Zotova, 20, tried to set fire to a collection point in the central Yaroslavl region, acting on the behest of a Ukrainian solider.

Her mother and supporters have rejected that claim, and said she was duped by the FSB.

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 those accused of attacking enlistment offices.

Local security services said Zotova was “involved in an attempt to commit a terrorist act,” state-run news agency RIA reported.

She “was sentenced to a term of six years in a general prison colony,” they added, alleging that she had planned the attack working alongside a Ukrainian serviceman.

Zotova was first sentenced in June, the independent Novaya Gazeta outlet reported, and the verdict was upheld in a hearing on Wednesday, state media reported.

The Zona Solidarnosti non-governmental organisation said Zotova could have been set up in a targeted operation for her opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

FSB “agents actively encouraged the girl to commit arson against an aid collection point for the Russian military,” it said.

Zotova’s mother, Svetlana Zotova, has also said her daughter was duped into the plot by an FSB agent posing as a Ukrainian.

Most of Russia’s high-profile opposition figures have either been jailed by the Kremlin or fled the country.

Svetlana Zotova is also facing up to 10 years in jail on charges of “inciting extremism and terrorism” over alleged pro-Ukraine posts on social media.

In an interview with the independent Bereg news site, she said both she and her daughter oppose Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“If Lera doesn’t like something, she will say it. She is like me,” she said, using a short version of her daughter’s name.

“I will go to court with my head held high,” she added.