The trial of Kremlin critic Yashin begins in Russia

The trial of Kremlin critic Yashin begins in Russia


A Russian court on Wednesday opened the trial of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who faces up to ten years in prison for denouncing President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

The trial of Yashin, a 39-year-old Moscow councilman, comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices in Russia, with most opposition activists either in prison or out of the country.

Yashin refused to go after Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

He is an ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and was close to Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who was assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015.

As Yashin stood in an accused’s cage in front of Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court on Wednesday, he tried to put on a brave face, laughing, giving thumbs up and stretching, an AFP correspondent said.

Wearing a dark green hoodie and jeans, he also smiled at his parents in the front row.

Yashin was arrested last summer while walking through a park in the Russian capital.

He faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of spreading “false” information about the Russian army, introduced after Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Yashin’s investigation was prompted by an April YouTube stream in which Yashin spoke about the “murder of civilians” in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where the Russian army is accused of war crimes.

He called it a “massacre.”

During his detention, Yashin has been outspoken about Russia’s tactics in Ukraine.

In a court speech earlier this month, he accused Russia’s judges of acting as “political servants of the Kremlin.”

Another Moscow city councilman, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years in prison in July for denouncing the offensive in Ukraine.

The 61-year-old had questioned plans for an art competition for children in his constituency at a time when “kids are dying every day” in Ukraine.

Almost all of Putin’s known political opponents have either fled the country or are in prison.

Navalny, 46, is currently serving a nine-year sentence for embezzlement, which is widely seen as political.

Since Putin sent troops to Ukraine, Moscow has stepped up efforts to stamp out dissent.

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