UFA, Russia — A court in Russia’s Bashkortostan region has handed a suspended sentence to a woman for sending a small amount of money to the elderly mother of a jailed opposition activist.
The court in Bashkortostan’s capital, Ufa, on September 6 found Ilmira Bikbayeva guilty of financially supporting extremism and handed her a suspended three-year prison term.
Last week, a prosecutor at the trial asked the court to convict the pensioner and sentence her to four years in prison.
The case against Bikbayeva was launched last year after investigators found out that she sent a total of about 6,000 rubles ($82) over several installments to the mother of Airat Dilmukhametov, a prominent opposition activist who was sentenced to nine years in prison on “extremism” charges in 2020.
Bikbayeva, 59, who went on trial in February, pleaded not guilty, insisting that she just wanted to support the elderly woman who was struggling financially and help activists travel to the village of Sunarchi to place a memorial stone there honoring Bashkir national movement activists of the 18th century.
Investigators say the money Bikbayeva sent was used by Dilmukhametov to conduct “extremist” activities.
Rights activists have scoffed at the notion, saying the amount is a little more than one-10th of an average monthly salary in Russia.
In early August, Bikbayeva learned that she had already been added to a federal list of extremists before the court ruled on her case, after she discovered her bank accounts and credit cards had been frozen without warning.
Dilmukhametov, who has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated, was arrested in March 2019 and sentenced to nine years in prison after a court found him guilty of calling on people to violate Russia’s territorial integrity and for making public calls for extremism and to support terrorism.
The charge against Dilmukhametov stemmed from a video statement he made in 2018 urging the creation of a “real” federation in Russia with more autonomous rights given to ethnic republics and regions.