A Russian appeared in court today, as he criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Russian leadership in a random interview he gave as a street passerby to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). This is the first such case, amid a widespread crackdown in Russia. The trial was adjourned after a short hearing and will continue on September 18.
In July 2022, as RFE/RL reporters asked passersby on a Moscow street for their views on the war in Ukraine, the 37-year-old Yuri Kokhovets he replied that President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government are villainsresponsible for the war, while rejecting the Kremlin’s arguments to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Our government claimed to want to fight Ukrainian nationalists, but is bombing shopping malls,” he said in this video posted to social media by RFE/RL. He also accused the Russian military of “he killed without reason» civilians in Boota site near Kiev that was the scene of a massacre attributed to Russian forces at the start of the 2022 invasion.
“We have to stop all this. In our country, one man can stop all thishe said at the exit of a metro station, referring to Putin.
Last March, Kohovets was arrested by the police and fined 500 rubles (about 5 euro at the current exchange rate) since detained for 48 hours in a police stationaccused of “hooliganism”, according to the Russian non-governmental organization OVD-Info. Later, the authorities changed the charges against him, accusing the 37-year-old of “spreading false information about the Russian armed forces”, a charge introduced into the penal code at the beginning of the Russian invasion. Under that charge, thousands of Russians have since been convicted, in some cases with heavy prison sentences.
Kokhovec faces up to 10 years in prison
His case is the first known persecution in Russia, which is being exercised over comments criticizing the invasion of Ukraine in an interview. The 37-year-old made the remarks to Radio Svoboda, the Russian arm of RFE/RL, a US-sponsored Cold War-era media outlet.
Almost all major dissidents and critics of the Russian leadership have fled the country or are in prisonwith the most prominent case being that of Alexei Navalny, who has been sentenced to heavy prison terms.
Thousands of Russian citizens have also been convicted for their opposition to the Russian invasion, either through their participation in protest actions or simply by posting on social media. According to OVD-Info, nearly 20,000 people have been arrested since February 2022. This week alone, Russian courts are scheduled to hear 71 cases of a political nature.
Source: News Beast
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