Moscow city councilor gets seven years in prison for anti-war comment

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LONDON — A Moscow district councilor was jailed for seven years on Friday for criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in what a Kremlin critic lawyer said was the first case of someone going to court. jail under a new « false news » law.

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Alexei Gorinov, a member of the Krasnoselsky district council, told a council meeting on March 15, during which a drawing competition for children was discussed, that Russia was waging a war of aggression against the Ukraine.

« What kind of children’s drawing competition can we talk about for Children’s Day…when children are dying every day? » he said in a recording of the meeting posted on YouTube.

He was arrested under Article 207.3 of the Penal Code, enacted shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 to prohibit « the deliberate dissemination of false information about the Russian military », defined as information deviating from official reports.

Gorinov’s supporters posted a photo on their Telegram channel of the adviser, handcuffed in a glass cage for the accused, holding up a sign saying: « Do you still need this war? » during the procedure.

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« They took my spring, they took my summer, and now they’ve taken seven more years from my life, » they said during Friday’s sentencing.

Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said the sentencing – confirmed on the court’s own Telegram account – was intended to set an example for people using the word « war » to refer to the actions of the Russia in Ukraine.

Since the start of what it calls a « special military operation », Russia has cracked down on the media and individuals calling its actions a « war » or an « invasion ».

Many people were fined administratively for protesting the war, but lawyer Pavel Chikov said on Telegram that only two others had been convicted of criminal offenses under Article 207.3, and that the one had been sentenced to a fine and the other to a suspended prison sentence.

Russia says it had to use force to defend persecuted Russian speakers and defuse a military threat from Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss these justifications as baseless pretexts for a war of conquest that has claimed thousands of lives, razed towns and cities, and displaced a third of Ukraine’s population.


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