“The court has sentenced me to 8 years and 6 months in prison,” Russian dissident politician Ilya Yashin said Friday, according to the Insider’s translation. “Well, the authors of the verdict are optimistic about Putin’s prospects. Too optimistic, in my opinion.”
Yashin faced trial in Moscow pursuant to the censorship laws adopted in Russia following the launch of the war, draconian measures that stifle even state media discussion of high-profile Russian retreats. Russian officials have tried to present a positive and confident portrait of the war in Ukraine as the holiday season brings the 10th month of fighting in a “special military operation” that Russian forces were expected to win in short order.
“The SMO is going at its own pace. Everything is stable for us,” Putin insisted during a Friday press conference, according to the War Translated Project. “There are no issues or problems today.”
Putin himself acknowledged this week that the path to a Russian victory “appears to be a long process,” but he walked that statement back on Friday. “As for the duration of the SMO process, I meant the duration of the settlement process,” he said.
In parallel, prosecutors faulted Yashin for showing “media reports from unfriendly countries to substantiate his claims” about the Bucha massacre in April.
“Expressing hatred of the political system of the Russian Federation and realizing that he is a public person … Yashin created a real threat to the formation of a negative attitude towards the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” the district court agreed when handing down his sentence.
Yashin, declaring the trial a victory by giving him “an anti-war platform” from which to put a spotlight on Russian war crimes, mocked the stiff sentence.
“With this hysterical verdict the authorities want to frighten us all, but in fact they only show their weakness,” he said. “Strong leaders are calm and confident, and only weak leaders seek to shut everyone up, to burn out any dissent. So all I have to do today is repeat what I said on the day I was arrested: I am not afraid, and you are not afraid. Change is just around the corner, and soon you and I will be working hard to restore justice and humanity to our country.”