Russia: Authorities must drop case against Ilya Yashin – latest victim of clampdown on war critics

Reacting to the news that the Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Ilya Yashin, one of the few leading opposition figures criticizing the invasion of Ukraine who remained in the country and who has been arbitrarily detained since the end of June, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“The ugly repression of rights in Russia continues. Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian authorities have become even more brazen in their attempts to silence the political opposition, activists and all those who disagree with the government.”

“Ilya Yashin is one of the few opposition figures who until recently remained in the country and not behind bars. Now, he is also in arbitrary detention and facing prison for criticizing the conduct of the Russian military in Ukraine. He should be released immediately and unconditionally, and the shameful criminalization of freedom of expression must stop.”

* On 12 July, Ilya Yashin’s lawyer announced that the Main Investigation Department of Russia’s Investigative Committee had opened a criminal case against his client. Ilya Yashin, who is serving 15 days of so-called administrative detention under bogus charges of “disobedience of a police officer's order,” is now accused of “disseminating knowingly false information about the actions of the Russian Armed Forces,” reportedly for discussing on his YouTube channel the killings of civilians in Bucha [1] by Russian forces. If convicted, Ilya Yashin faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code, introduced following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has already been used against Aleksei Gorinov, Ilya  Yashin’s fellow councillor at the Deputies’ Council of the

Krasnoselsky District of Moscow. Gorinov became the first individual to be sentenced to jail time under this article. On 8 July, he was sentenced to seven years [2] in prison for calling Russia’s actions a war (as opposed to the official “special military operation”).

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