Criticism of the war in Ukraine is mercilessly persecuted in Russia. The Moscow politician Alexei Gorinow has now been sentenced to seven years in a prison camp. The defendant used the verdict to make a brave statement.

A Moscow local politician has been sentenced to seven years in prison after publicly criticizing the Russian offensive in Ukraine. A Moscow court on Friday found Alexey Gorinov guilty of “knowingly spreading misinformation” about the Russian army. Judge Olesja Mendeleeva claimed that the 60-year-old acted out of “political hatred”.

He and another MP, Yelena Kotyonochkina, “misled” and “terrified” Russians about the military operation in Ukraine, the judge added. Kotyonochkina has since fled Russia.

Demonstration against the war in Ukraine at the sentencing

Gorinov held up a note during the hearing that read, “Do you still need this war?”. A bailiff tried to shield the words from the cameras. “It was all decided beforehand,” said the local politician when the verdict was announced.

Gorinov had criticized Russia’s military action in Ukraine in March. He called for a drawing competition for children in his constituency to be avoided as long as “children are dying every day” in Ukraine. His performance was filmed and distributed on the YouTube video platform.

Since the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine, the Russian authorities have increasingly cracked down on dissenting opinions. At the beginning of March, up to 15 years in prison were introduced for “spreading false information” about the Russian army. Activists say the offense is intended to silence critics of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Gorinov is the first opposition elected official to be sentenced to prison for his criticism.

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