Sentence of 8 and a half years in prison confirmed on appeal for the Russian opponent Yachine

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8 and a half year prison sentence confirmed on appeal for Russian opponent Iachin

Alexander Nemenov Agence France-Presse Ilia Iashin during a hearing in court

A Russian appeals court on Wednesday upheld an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence imposed on opponent Ilya Yashin for his criticism of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, amid accelerating repression in Russia .

The conviction handed down at first instance in December “remains unchanged”, the judge said, according to an Agence France-Presse correspondent in court. Mr. Yashin, 39, was found guilty of spreading “false information” about the Russian military.

A charismatic opponent, he was convicted for having denounced, in a live intervention on YouTube, “the murder of civilians” in the town of Boutcha, near Kiev, where the Russian army has been accused of abuses, which denies Moscow.

“The feeling of having moral superiority over the thieves and killers who have taken over gives me strength. They know I don't fear them,” Mr. Iachine said during the hearing, according to a transcript released by his team.

“What is my fault?” It is to have fulfilled my duty as a Russian politician and patriot and to have told the truth about this war,” he also said.

After the hearing, the One of his lawyers, Maria Eismont, has reaffirmed that his client is not guilty because the charge of “false information” is based solely, according to her, on the “opinion” of the Russian Ministry of Defense.< /p>

“Iachine has a very playful mentality,” she added, assuring that he “felt good”.

Repression crescendo

Mr. Yashin's trial is particularly watched in Russia, as he was one of the last prominent Russian opponents of Vladimir Putin not to have been imprisoned in Russia.

This decision, unsurprisingly, comes the day after the rejection of another appeal, that of the American journalist Evan Gershkovich, accused of espionage, who was kept in pre-trial detention until the end of May.

< p>Since the launch of the offensive against Ukraine at the end of February 2022, the Russian government has accelerated its repression of dissenting voices, punishing hundreds of people with fines and prison terms, or closing the last critical NGOs.

From now on, the great opposition figures who have remained in the country, such as Alexeï Navalny, Ilia Yachine or Vladimir Kara-Mourza, have received heavy prison sentences.

Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced Monday to a record 25 years in prison, including for “high treason”, an unprecedented severity against an opponent in Russian history since the Soviet repressions.

But the repressive machine also affects simple anonymous people, guilty of having expressed themselves publicly against the offensive, sometimes in simple messages on social networks seen by a very small number of people.

A father, Alexei Moskaliov, and his 13-year-old daughter recently found themselves at the heart of an emblematic affair. In the spring of 2022, the latter drew a picture in class against Russian intervention in Ukraine and was denounced by the school principal.

A few months later, her father was targeted by the justice and sentenced in March to two years in prison for online publications criticizing the conflict. Hours before his sentencing, Moskaliov had fled to Belarus, but he has since been arrested and extradited to Russia.

On Thursday, a court is due to consider a request to strip him of custody of his daughter.

“By doing this, they want to intimidate society”, reacted Wednesday Oleg Orlov, head of Memorial, pillar of human rights dissolved at the end of 2021 by Russian justice and co-winner of the last Nobel Prize for peace.

“And they are succeeding […] Society is afraid and prefers to be silent,” Mr. Orlov continued, speaking to the audience of Ilya Yashin.

Since March, Oleg Orlov has himself been prosecuted in a case for “discrediting” the Russian army, which could send him to prison for three years.