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Iris de Graaf
Iris de Graaf
“Let’s face it. Since February 24, I knew very well that I would be arrested. We all know this. I was asked why I did not leave Russia. Well, I will explain: I do not want it easy for them, I do not want to run away and hide from whom I hate.
38-year-old opposition politician Elia Yasgin wrote this in an Instagram post tonight after he was arrested earlier today. He is one of the last members of the opposition to remain in Russia.
‘Sharing fake information’
Yashin has been in prison since early June, serving a sentence for disobeying the police. He was supposed to be released today, but was immediately re-arrested instead. This time he was charged with “spreading false information about the Russian armed forces”. Today, a Moscow court ordered Yashin’s detention until September 12, until the official verdict.
The politician could face up to 15 years in prison under new Russian legislation, which since March has prohibited publicly “discrediting” the Russian armed forces or citing information from unofficial sources. According to Reuters, Yashin shouted “Russia will be liberated!” After the judge agreed to the prosecution’s request to keep him in prison until September.
In addition to his work on regional politics, Yassin also owns a popular YouTube channel with over 1.2 million subscribers. There he shares a lot of videos, since February mostly critical of Russian performance in Ukraine. He also runs a popular Telegram channel. He is now being tried by the judiciary based on a statement in one of his videos.
Amnesty International is calling on Russia to release Yashin, writing that “the shameful criminalization of freedom of expression in Russia must stop”. According to the human rights organization Since February, the Russian authorities have become “more brutal in their efforts to silence political opposition, activists, and everyone who disagrees with the government.”
Opposition leader Navalny, who can still communicate through his lawyer, also spoke about the case: “I demand the immediate release of Ilya Yasgin,” his team tweeted on his behalf. Yashin said nothing but the truth about what is going on in Ukraine, according to Navalny.
Just last week, a member of the Moscow Region Council Alexei Gourinov was sentenced to seven years in prison. At a meeting in March, he criticized Russia’s actions in Ukraine. This was one of the first cases in which the new law on “defaming the reputation of the Russian army” was applied and such a long prison sentence was issued.
Now Gasgen follows, a few days later. The authorities seem busy dealing with the last remnants of the opposition. This may have something to do with the approaching municipal elections on 9/11, which is already running its local campaign across the country.
In recent months, more than 200 criminal cases have been opened in Russia related to public protest or “spreading false news”. More than 16,000 Russians have been arrested since February. Journalists, lawyers, mayors, artists, clergy and teachers. Some were sentenced to heavy fines, others to house arrest or imprisonment.
In his Instagram message, Jasjin points out the heavy price that Russians have to pay today to “break the darkness”. Yashin wrote: “Boris Nemtsov paid with his life for this, now he is paying hundreds of people for their personal freedom. But I promised to tell the truth as loudly as I could. And that if I was arrested, I would take the blow with dignity. I keep my word. “
He concludes: “I am not afraid.” “And you shouldn’t be afraid either.”
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”