Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday granted a motion made by Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov to recognize the Freedom of Russia Legion as a terrorist organization, RIA Novosti reported.
Part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Freedom of Russia Legion was founded just over a year ago with the stated aim of freeing the occupied regions of Ukraine and overthrowing the “dictatorial regime of Vladimir Putin,” according to its manifesto.
Its members are mainly defectors from the Russian Armed Forces as well as Russian and Belarusian volunteers with no prior military background.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office argued that the legion has been established to “overthrow the government.”
The Supreme Court’s decision means that Russian citizens joining the legion now face up to two decades in jail, though Russians fighting alongside the Ukrainian Armed Forces have already been liable to criminal prosecution.
In January, Kirill Belousov, a 22-year-old resident of the Saratov region, was sentenced to five years hard labor for attempting to join the Freedom of Russia Legion. Some 20 legion members are already under investigation, according to TASS.
“Funny. The terrorist country turns the tables and stubbornly fights all expressions of free-thinking,” the legion wrote in response to the Supreme Court’s decision.