Russian opposition figure jailed for eight and a half years

Ilya Yashin, who spoke out against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, was one of the few critics of the Kremlin to stay in Russia.

Ilya Yashin
Ilya Yashin

A prominent Russian opposition figure has been jailed for eight and a half years after being convicted on charges stemming from his criticism of the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine.

The sentence handed to Ilya Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have stayed in Russia, offered the latest indication of an intensified crackdown on dissent by Russian authorities.

Yashin said in a statement through his lawyers: “With that hysterical sentence, the authorities want to scare us all but it effectively shows their weakness.

“Only the weak want to shut everyone’s mouth and eradicate any dissent.”

Yashin was charged with spreading false information about the military — a new offence added to the country’s criminal law after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine.

The charges against him related to a YouTube livestream video in which he talked about Ukrainians being killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. He rejected the charges as politically motivated.

During the trial at Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court, Yashin argued that his case has been fabricated and “has all the markings of illegal political persecution”.

Ilya Yashin
Yashin at his sentencing hearing (Pool/AP)

He noted that in the video he cited Russian official sources along with Ukrainian statements to give his audience an objective view.

In his final remarks Monday, he said that he considers it his duty to tell the truth.

He said: “I will not renounce the truth behind bars.

“When the hostilities began, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

“I felt I should remain in Russia, loudly tell the truth and try to do all what I could to end the bloodshed.

“It’s better to sit behind bars for a decade and remain an honest person than silently feel shame for the blood spilled by your government.”

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