The prosecution submitted CDs of songs of the Ukrainian National Assembly—Ukrainian People’s Self-Defence, an organization banned in Russia too. These were also supposedly found in the raid in 2015. According to Sharina, they could not have been stored at the library.

Pavlov says he is convinced evidence was planted during the raid. “We had witnesses—people who were present during the raid—testifying that they saw these materials being planted,” he told The Moscow Times.

“When the judge asked the investigator about it, he blushed and went silent for almost a minute before denying it.” But neither the investigator, nor the prosecution offered any counter-arguments.

A way out

For the prosecution, “deeper issues” were at stake. “Ukrainian nationalism, which went hand in hand with German Nazism during the World War II, has raised its head again,” the state’s prosecutor Lyudmina Balandina said in her closing statements May 29.

The same people who “usurped” power in Ukraine are siding with Ukrainian nationalists, she said, and “openly talking about the need to occupy Russian regions, led by criminal ideas outlined in this so-called literature.”

“Ukraine’s leaders are cracking down on its Russian population by banning Russian language, traditions, holidays and culture,” Balandina continued. “I believe the defendant is part of a complex mechanism designed to discredit Russian culture in Ukraine.”

The prosecutor’s speech demonstrated that the case against Sharina was purely political, says Pavlov.

“We tried hard to avoid political statements in this case and stir it towards law rather than politics,” the lawyer says. “But the prosecutor exploded and said it all.” “It happens in cases like this one, which aren’t very solid from a legal standpoint. [They] aren’t looking for justice, but rather a way out.”

For Natalya Sharina—who for nearly two years was confined to her apartment, unable to visit family, make phone calls or leave for more than two hours a day—a four-year suspended sentence is, perhaps, a way out.