Russian court convicts teen of helping plan cathedral blast

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Russia has sentenced a 19-year-old to three and a half years in prison for involvement in a botched suicide attack in Saint-Petersburg, the city's judicial press-service said.

A district court in the northwestern city convicted teenager Firuz Kalavurov of weapons trafficking and failing to notify the police of a planned bombing in Saint-Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral.

Last December Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had arrested seven suspected sympathisers of the Islamic State group, who planned to stage an attack over the winter holidays.

The FSB said the attack was planned with the involvement of Islamic State group's leaders via a messenger service.

Several suspects were then convicted, including 18-year-old Yevgeny Yefimov, who was sentenced to five years for planning an attack on the cathedral.

The Smolninsky District Court ruled that Kalavurov knew of Yefimov's plans through numerous discussions and even suggested the target, a major tourist and religious attraction.

The statement said Yefimov was a supporter of the Islamic State group and showed videos of the jihadist group's murders.

Kalavurov also stored explosive substances in his home, said the statement. He plead not guilty during the hearing.

Influential local website Fontanka had reported that there are inconsistencies in the case of the alleged jihadist ring.

The Kremlin late last year said that President Vladimir Putin thanked Donald Trump for information from the CIA about the planned attacks, without giving any details.

Russia has witnessed a number of suicide bombings claimed by radical Islamists that have killed dozens on public transport over the last decade.

Moscow's role in fighting IS and other militant groups in Chechnya and other parts of the mostly Muslim north Caucasus, along with its involvement in the Syrian conflict, has made it a terrorist target.

© 2018 AFP

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