Moscow, Dec 9 (EFE).- A Russian court sentenced opposition leader Ilya Yashin on Friday to eight and a half years in prison after he was found guilty of spreading “false information” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The judge said prosecutors had proven Yashin was motivated by “political hatred” of the Kremlin and was guilty of sharing news of allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Bucha, north of Kyiv, during the early days of the invasion, which Moscow prefers to call a “special military operation”.
The charges were brought under a new law criminalizing what the Kremlin deems to be false reporting about the Russian war in Ukraine that was introduced in the wake of its invasion.
The prosecution had asked for nine years in prison for Yahsin, the longest sentence requested since the law was passed in February.
According to Ukraine, more than 400 bodies showing signs of torture were found in Bucha, following the withdrawal of the Russian army in April.
Russia, meanwhile, denies killing civilians, accusing Ukraine and the West of a setup.
Prosecutors accused Yashin of committing the crime during a live broadcast on YouTube on April 7 in which he alluded to allegations of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital.
Yashin’s lawyers argued that the prosecution had failed to present any conclusive evidence, accusing the court of ignoring the fact that Yashin had cited both Russian and foreign media in his live broadcast, as well as Russian defense ministry reports.
An ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to nine years in 2021, Yashin is one of the few Kremlin critics who has not fled Russia since the start of the “special military operation”.
Amnesty International in July called for an end to the criminal prosecution of the opposition leader for exercising the right to freedom of expression and “criticizing the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine”. EFE