Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin jailed for eight years for spreading ‘fake news’ about war in Ukraine | world news

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin, one of the few remaining voices in Russia ready to denounce Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, was sentenced this Friday in Moscow to eight and a half years in prison.

Once this step is completed, the 39-year-old will also be banned from posting anything online for four more. The judge told him he could get his iPhone 11 back after that.

From his glass cage, Yashin thanked her. “I appreciate your sense of humor,” he said smiling.

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The verdict is hardly a surprise. In a powerful closing statement on Monday, Yashin, who is declared a foreign agent in Russia, had addressed the judge saying she knew he was not guilty and in turn knew what kind of pressure the system was working on her.

He didn’t blame her for the inevitable guilty verdict, he said. “But it’s better to spend 10 years behind bars as an honest man than to burn silently in shame for the blood your government sheds.”

His main crime in the eyes of the state was posting a video on his YouTube channel documenting alleged Russian military crimes in Bucha, a city in Ukraine, to his nearly 1.4 million followers.

But the lengthy verdict, delivered in the fast-paced monotone characteristic of all Russian judges, provided a comprehensive summary of the many criticisms Yashin has made online and in person of President Putin, the regime’s pernicious use of propaganda, and what Yashin called it “monstrous war”.

A friend and political associate of Alexei Navalny, Yashin is the most high-profile figure to be convicted under the series of fake news laws introduced in March after the invasion of Ukraine.

It is also the longest sentence handed down under the legislation, although 366 people have been fined or imprisoned so far for allegedly discrediting the Russian armed forces, according to the advocacy group human rights OVD-Info.

Yashin’s father held his hands in front of his face as the verdict was read. Outside court, he told Sky News ‘we won’t break up and he won’t break up’.

A small group of supporters chanted “Russia will be free,” the traditional slogan of anti-Putin rallies, many of which had led Yashin and Navalny.

At a press conference in Bishkek, President Putin was asked to comment on Yashin’s sentencing. “Who is he?” he replied, before adding that he did not consider it appropriate to question the court decisions.


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