Moscow court rejects Kremlin critic’s appeal over prison term

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A Moscow court has dismissed a prominent Russian opposition figure’s appeal against his eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for criticising Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Ilya Yashin was convicted in December of spreading false information about the military, which was made a criminal offence after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine.

The charges against Yashin stemmed from a series of online posts discussing atrocities in Bucha, a town outside Ukraine’s capital where dead civilians were found in the streets and in a mass grave after Russian troops withdrew.

During his trial last year, Yashin argued that a livestreamed YouTube video in which he talked about Ukrainians being killed in Bucha cited official Russian sources along with Ukrainian statements to give his audience an objective view.

Ilya Yashin
Yashin will serve more than eight years in prison (Pool via AP)

Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have stayed in Russia after Mr Putin launched the military action in Ukraine, participated by video link in Wednesday’s Moscow City Court hearing on his ultimately unsuccessful appeal.

International human rights groups have denounced the sentence as a mockery of justice and called for Yashin’s immediate release.

Before his sentencing, Yashin addressed Mr Putin directly, urging him to “immediately stop this madness, recognise that the policy on Ukraine was wrong, pull back troops from its territory and switch to a diplomatic settlement of the conflict”.

Asked at the time about the December 8 verdict, Mr Putin replied that Yashin’s lawyers could appeal against it.

Russian authorities have repeatedly used the law on discrediting the military to stifle dissent.

On Monday, a Russian court convicted top opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr of treason for publicly denouncing Moscow’s war in Ukraine and sentenced him to 25 years in prison as part of the Kremlin’s relentless crackdown on critics of the invasion.

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