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In Russia Ukrainian library boss in Moscow found guilty of 'extremism'

Natalya Sharina, 59, was given a four-year suspended sentence for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred against Russians.

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The former head of a Ukrainian library in Moscow, Natalya Sharina, was given a four-year suspended sentence for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred against Russians play

The former head of a Ukrainian library in Moscow, Natalya Sharina, was given a four-year suspended sentence for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred against Russians

(AFP)

A Russian court on Monday found the former head of a Ukrainian library in Moscow guilty of "extremism" in a high-profile case critics labelled a political witchhunt.

Natalya Sharina, 59, was given a four-year suspended sentence for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred against Russians by stocking books by a banned Ukrainian nationalist writer, and for a separate embezzlement charge.

The lengthy case against Sharina -- who has been under house arrest since 2015 -- comes as relations between ex-Soviet neighbours Ukraine and Russia have collapsed over Moscow's 2014 seizure of the Crimea peninsula and backing for a pro-Kremlin rebellion.

After the verdict Sharina -- who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty international -- described her ordeal as a "political trial".

"Not one of the books cited were in the reading hall or our stocks," she told journalists. "The verdict has no basis in reality."

"This highly politicised case runs totally counter to justice, and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia's judiciary," said Amnesty's deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev.

"The prosecution has exploited the highly charged anti-Ukrainian atmosphere that is prevalent in Russia at the moment," Krivosheev said in a statement.

Sharina was detained in October 2015 after works by extreme Ukrainian nationalist writer Dmytro Korchynsky were allegedly found during a search of the library.

Books by Korchynsky -- who took part in protests that ousted a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader in 2014 -- are banned by Moscow as "extremist" and "anti-Russian propagada".

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