Ilya Yanshin, one of Russia’s most prominent opposition figures has been sentenced to eight-and-a half years in prison for spreading “fake information” about Russia’s military.

Yashin, one of very few Kremlin critics to remain in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, continued to voice his opposition to the war.

He was arrested after he condemned Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian town Bucha.

Russia quickly made false information reporting a crime shortly after the invasion.

While several Russians have been sentenced to jail, Yashin’s sentence remains the longest.

However, he denied the charge. Judge Oksana Goryunova however stated that he had knowingly distributed false information about Russian armed forces.

Last April, he spoke on his YouTube channel regarding the death of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians at the hands of Russia’s occupying troops in Bucha. He was not far from Kyiv.

He stated to the court that he had given both Ukrainian and Russian versions. During the video, his story and images were shared by BBC and other sources. Russia’s defense ministry denies the accusations. It also condemned images of civilians killed as “staged.”

Prosecutors called for a nine year sentence. Maria Eismont, Maria Eismont’s lawyer, said that they would appeal against the verdict.

Yashin wrote in a Telegram post that he told his supporters not to feel sad. “We told the truth regarding war crimes and demanded an end to the bloodshed.”

Alexei Navalny is Russia’s most prominent opposition leader. He said the “shameless & lawless verdict of Putin’s court will NOT silence Ilya”. He described him as possibly the first friend that he had made in politics.

Interview by BBC Russian July: Yashin claimed that Yashin’s arrest wasn’t surprising as Russian authorities had made clear there were only two options available for Kremlin oppositions: emigration, or prison.

Yashin’s supporters protested outside the courtroom on Friday and condemned Yashin for his unfair sentence and violation of his right to freedom speech.

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