Ex-director of Ukrainian Literature Library gets 4-years suspended sentence in extremism and embezzlement case

The Meshchansky District Court in Moscow has found Natalia Sharina, the former director of the Ukrainian Literature Library, guilty of extremism and embezzlement and handed down to her a suspended sentence of four years in jail.

"The court reached a conclusion that the defendant's guilt is proven. [The court rules to] find the defendant guilty of extremism and embezzlement and give Sharina a suspended sentence of four years in jail," Judge Yelena Gudovshnikova said delivering the judgment on Monday.

In addition, Sharina was put on a four-year probation period.

The lawsuit of the injured party – the Ukrainian Literature Libraries - will be considered separately.

For her part, Sharina said that the verdict was not clear to her. "I do not understand it. Inciting the hatred suggests some kind of actions. What actions did I take? No witness has confirmed this, there is no evidence. The books have not been recognized as extremist," she said.

The law enforcement structures conducted searches at the Ukrainian Literature Library on October 28, 2015, following which library director Sharina was detained. A criminal case under the article reading 'Incitement of ethnic hatred and enmity and violation of human dignity' of the Russian Criminal Code was initially opened against her. According to investigators, the case was opened on the grounds of the fact that the library offered visitors Dmytro Korchynsky's works, which were qualified as extremist materials by a Russian court and banned from use.

The number of materials declared extremist and banned in Russia, which, according to investigators, Sharina distributed, later increased to almost 20.

On April 5, 2016, Sharina was charged on another count, embezzlement in an especially large amount. According to investigators, Sharina spent funds intended for salaries of the library's lawyers on her defense in the first criminal case of extremism, which was subsequently closed, in 2011-2013. Another charge of embezzlement, this time in a large amount, was later brought against her.

Investigators believe that Sharina "in violation of law organized obtainment of payment orders from a settlement account of the Department of Finance for Moscow to a settlement account of the Moscow City Bar Association in the total amount of 297,000 rubles" and embezzled 3.2 million rubles, having on paper hired the acquaintances of her lawyer, transferring salary to them and providing them health insurance. Thus, she inflicted damage in the amount of 3.5 million rubles, investigators said.

Sharina has been placed under house arrest, which was repeatedly extended by the court, and she remains under house arrest to date. In early February, Sharina's defense team appealed against the conditions of her house arrest to the Strasbourg court.