The opposition figure faces up to 10 years in prison for denouncing Putin’s war in Ukraine.
A Moscow court has begun the trial of Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who faces up to 10 years in prison for denouncing the war in Ukraine.
The trial of Yashin, a 39-year-old Moscow city councilor, begins during an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in Russia, where most opposition activists are in jail or in exile.
Yashin refused to leave after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
He is an ally of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny and was close to Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015.
Standing in a defendant’s cage at Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court on Wednesday, Yashin was seen laughing, giving a thumbs up and stretching, the AFP news agency reported.
Wearing a dark green hoodie and jeans, he was also seen smiling at his parents in the front row.
Yashin was arrested in June while walking through a park in the Russian capital.
He faces up to 10 years behind bars on charges of spreading “false” information about the Russian military under legislation passed after Putin launched the attack on Ukraine.
The reason for the case against Yashin is a YouTube broadcast from April, in which the politician spoke about the “murder of civilians” in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where the Russian military has been accused of war crimes. He called it a “massacre.”
While in custody, Yashin did not mince words about Russia’s tactics in Ukraine.
In a speech to the court this month, he accused Russian judges of acting as “political servants of the Kremlin.”
Another Moscow councilor, Alexey Gorinov, was sentenced in July to seven years in prison for denouncing the offensive in Ukraine.
The 61-year-old had questioned plans for a children’s art competition in his constituency as “children die every day” in Ukraine.
Almost all of Putin’s known political opponents have fled the country or are in jail.
Navalny, 46, is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence on embezzlement charges that are considered politically motivated.
Moscow has intensified efforts to crack down on dissent since Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
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