Putin will be toppled before my sentence ends’: Moscow official – an ex-boyfriend of Vladimir’s ‘goddaughter’ – says Russian leader’s days are numbered as he is jailed for criticising Ukraine war
Ilya Yashin, 39, who is an ex-boyfriend of Putin’s ‘goddaughter’, was sentenced for spreading ‘false information’ about Russia’s horrific war crimes in Bucha in the highest-profile conviction under new legislation criminalising criticism of the war.
The Moscow councillor’s supporters in the courtroom applauded Yashin, who smiled and waved to family despite being handcuffed, as the sentence was read.
Addressing them before he was led away, Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have stayed in Russia, predicted Putin would be toppled long before his release date.
‘Don’t get upset, it’s ok,’ Yashin told his supporters. ‘If anyone thinks that Putin will rule for eight years, he is a very big optimist.’
During the sentencing, Judge Oksana Goryunova said Yashin had committed a crime by disseminating ‘knowingly false information about Russia’s armed forces’.
In April, Yashin had described the murder of civilians in Bucha as a ‘massacre’, referring to a town near the capital Kyiv where civilians were found killed after Russian forces retreated.
During the trial at Moscow’s Meshchansky district court, Yashin argued his case has been fabricated and ‘has all the markings of illegal political persecution’.
Yashin remained in Russia even after Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 and regularly condemned the offensive to his 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube.
He was tried under new laws that came into force after February to penalise what the authorities deem to be damaging or false information about the Russian military.
During his closing statements in the final hearing this month, the opposition figure called on the Russian leader to ‘immediately stop this madness’.
‘We need to recognise this policy towards Ukraine is wrong, to withdraw troops from its territory and move on to a diplomatic settlement of the conflict,’ he said. ‘I will not give up the truth even behind bars.’
‘When the hostilities began, I didn’t hesitate for a second,’ Yashin said.
‘I felt I should remain in Russia, loudly tell the truth and try to do all what I could to end the bloodshed. It’s better to sit behind bars for a decade and remain an honest person than silently feel shame for the blood spilled by your government.’
In a statement following the sentencing, Yashin said: ‘With that hysterical sentence, the authorities want to scare us all but it effectively shows their weakness. Only the weak want to shut everyone’s mouth and eradicate any dissent.’
Prosecutors had argued that Yashin had ‘inflicted considerable damage to Russia’ and ‘increased political tensions’ when Russian troops were fighting in Ukraine.
Source : Dailymail.com