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Russia: Opposition politician Ilya Yashin sentenced to eight and half years in jail for denouncing Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine

Reacting to the news that a court in Russia has sentenced Ilya Yashin, an opposition activist and former elected head of a Moscow municipal district council, to eightand halfyears in jail on charges of disseminating “knowingly false information” for denouncing war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“Heavy fines, imprisonment, loss of livelihood, harassment, and physical attacks are all being used to silence those who protest or speak out against the war of aggression against Ukraine. In today’s Russia, telling the truth about human rights violations has literally been made a crime. Considerable personal risk has never deterred Ilya Yashin from speaking truth to power. As many others, he could not stay silent about the Russian forces’ killing of civilians in Bucha. Now he’s paying a high price for speaking out, facing eight and half years behind bars.”

Considerable personal risk has never deterred Ilya Yashin from speaking truth to power. As many others, he could not stay silent about the Russian forces’ killing of civilians in Bucha

Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director

Like his fellow councilor, Aleksei Gorinov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison on similar charges last year, Ilya Yashin used his last moments in court to again denounce Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. “I could run away, I could shut up. But I did what I had to do. It is better to spend ten years behind bars, remaining an honest person, than to burn silently with shame at what is happening in your name,” he said.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilya Yashin and all those imprisoned solely for expressing their opposition to the war of aggression, and for the urgent repeal of Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code and other repressive legislation assaulting the freedom of expression.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilya Yashin and all those imprisoned solely for expressing their opposition to the war of aggression

Background

On 9 December, the Moscow Meshchansky District Court sentenced Ilya Yashin, 39 years old, a former municipal councilor of the Moscow’s Krasnoselsky District, to eight and half years in prison. He was charged with disseminating “knowingly false information” about the use of the Russian Armed Forces, a newly introduced “crime” under Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.

According to the prosecution, in a 7 April YouTube post, Yashin “affirmatively stated under the guise of reliable information” that the Russian military were killing civilians in Bucha and at the same time spoke “disparagingly” of the Russian authorities.

Extrajudicial executions of civilians and other war crimes committed by members of Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, northwest of capital Kyiv, have been documented by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

Since 4 March 2022, after the introduction of Article 207.3, at least 132 people have been indicted for disseminating “knowingly false information” about the Russian armed forces. Some of them are facing multiple charges under this Article.