MOSCOW, October 1 (RAPSI) – The Presidential Council for Human Rights has demanded to declare the 8-year prison sentence given to businessman Konstantin Ponomarev, known for his dispute with IKEA over rented diesel generators, for false denunciation illegal, the businessman’s defense lawyer Anna Stavitskaya has told RAPSI.

According to the attorney, the human rights body supported the appeal against sentence and attached the conclusion on its illegality to the complaint filed with the Moscow City Court.

The appeal against Ponomarev’s sentence is expected to be heard on October 8.

The businessman and his defense team believe the sentence illegal and unjustified and seek for its vacation. In the appeal the defendant asks court for acquittal and release.

On July 9, a court in Lyubertsy, a town in the Moscow Region, found Ponomarev guilty of false denunciation and passed the sentence on him. His lawyer Maxim Zagorsky was also convicted in the case and received 7 years and 8 months behind bars. He was also banned from practicing law for 3 years. A judge held that the defendants committed several crimes related to evidence simulation. The attorney was an organizer of the criminal group, the ruling read.

According to Ponomarev’s attorneys, numerous violations were committed during investigation and trial, including the breach of rule of jurisdiction and illegal searches in the office of the businessman’s lawyers.

The trial of Ponomarev and Zagorsky began in December 2018.  Investigators considered initiation of criminal proceedings by a private person on Ponomarev’s appeal as false denunciation.

The defendants pleaded not guilty and insisted on acquittal.

Ponomarev was embroiled in a long-standing dispute with IKEA that opted to rent diesel generators to power its shopping malls in St. Petersburg. Five criminal cases were opened against the businessman at the request of the Swedish retailer. However, a probe over alleged fraud found nothing, and the cases were dropped.

The businessman believes that the false denunciation case was resulted from the conflict with IKEA. Ponomarev claims that the company thus wants to stretch the time and siphon assets in order to avoid paying a multibillion debt to him.