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Ilya Yashin: Russian opposition figure jailed amid criticism of Ukraine war

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Ilya Yashin is a Russian opposition activist and a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow.
Ilya Yashin is a Russian opposition activist and a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File

A Moscow court has sentenced one of Russia's last remaining opposition leaders to 15 days in prison.

Ilya Yashin was arrested on Monday and was taken to a detention facility in the Russian capital’s Luzhniki neighbourhood.

A journalist friend said the municipal councillor was taken into custody while they walked in a Moscow park. He was convicted of "disobedience to the police" during his arrest, according to the Moscow court press service.

Yashin has denied any wrongdoing and said on Telegram that the charges had been "fabricated".

“I am not crazy, to get in a fight with three policemen,” he said, adding that his case could spiral into a longer jail term.

Yashin is one of the very few politicians still in Russia who has openly criticised the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. He was charged with discrediting the Russian army last month, according to the independent Meduza news website, and ordered to pay 90,000 roubles (€1,600).

Under a February law, Russian citizens face a fine or up to 15 years in prison if they intentionally spread "fake news" about the military or Russian entities abroad. 

Another Russian opposition politician, Vladimir Kara-Mourza was arrested in Moscow in April and sentenced to 15 days in prison for "disobeying the police".

He was then indicted for "disseminating false information" about the Russian army and has since been in pre-trial detention ever since.

Navalny's appeal rejected again

Yashin is also known in Russia for his ties to jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

On Tuesday, another Russian court rejected a fresh appeal by Navalny, against his lengthy prison sentence.

Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia in January 2021, after spending several months recovering in Germany from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on Moscow. The Kremlin has always denied the allegations.

Navalny was initially given a two-and-a-half-year sentence for allegedly violating the parole conditions of a 2014 fraud charge. In March, he was sentenced to a further nine years for fraud and contempt of court.

Navalny has denounced the charges as a politically motivated attempt by Russian authorities to keep him behind bars for as long as possible.

On Tuesday, the opposition leader stated that maximum-security prison officials had illegally prevented his lawyers from bringing him the necessary equipment to testify in court.

Close associates of Navalny have faced criminal charges and many have left Russia. Moscow also shut down his Anti-Corruption Foundation by labelling it an "extremist" organisation.