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Russian opposition figure gets 8-1/2 years“ jail on “fake news“ charge


2022-12-09T12:21:38Z

Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin guilty was sentenced by a court to eight-and-a-half years in prison on Friday on charges of spreading “fake information” about the army.

Yashin was tried over a YouTube video released in April in which he discussed evidence uncovered by Western journalists of Russian atrocities in Bucha, near Kyiv, and cast doubt on the official Moscow version that such reports had been fabricated as a “provocation” against Russia.

Russia passed new legislation after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 that provides for jail terms of up to 15 years for disseminating false information about the military.

In his final statement to the court earlier this week, Yashin appealed directly to President Vladimir Putin, describing him as “the person responsible for this slaughter” and asking him to “stop this madness”.

“Looking at the consequences of this monstrous war, you yourself probably realise what a grave error you committed on Feb. 24. Our army isn’t being greeted with flowers. They call us punishers and occupiers. The words ‘death’ and ‘destruction’ are now firmly associated with your name,” he said.

“You have brought terrible misfortune to the Ukrainian people, who will probably never forgive us.”

Since the start of the conflict, Russia has moved to quash almost all forms of dissent, with most of its prominent opposition figures either in jail or exile.

Yashin, 39, also urged his supporters to stay cheerful.

“Please don’t fall into despair and don’t forget that this is our country,” he said in his final statement. “It is worth fighting for. Be bold, don’t give way to evil, and resist.”

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Russian opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin gestures in a defendants’ glass cage prior to a verdict hearing at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow, Russia, December 9, 2022. Prosecution requested nine years in prison for Yashin for spreading fake information about the Russian army. Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin stands inside a defendants’ glass cage prior to a verdict hearing at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow, Russia, December 9, 2022. Prosecution requested nine years in prison for Yashin for spreading fake information about the Russian army. Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin stands inside a defendants’ glass cage prior to a verdict hearing at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow, Russia, December 9, 2022. Prosecution requested nine years in prison for Yashin for spreading fake information about the Russian army. Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin stands inside a defendants’ glass cage prior to a verdict hearing at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow, Russia, December 9, 2022. Prosecution requested nine years in prison for Yashin for spreading fake information about the Russian army. Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian opposition leader, former Moscow’s municipal deputy Ilya Yashin stands inside a defendants’ glass cage prior to a verdict hearing at the Meshchansky district court in Moscow, Russia, December 9, 2022. Prosecution requested nine years in prison for Yashin for spreading fake information about the Russian army. Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin, detained on suspicion of spreading false information about Russia’s army, stands inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Lev Sergeev