A Moscow court on Friday sentenced Kremlin critic Ilya Yashin to eight years and six months imprisonment after finding him guilty of spreading “false information” about the Russian army, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
It is unclear if Yashin’s prison sentence includes the time he has already spent in jail during court hearings.
Russian investigators say his statements about the circumstances of the killings in Bucha are a criminal offense under recently introduced legislation, which considers discrediting the Russian armed forces to be illegal.
In closing remarks to the court on Monday, Yashin made a statement addressing the judge, President Vladimir Putin and the Russian public. “As if they will sew my mouth shut and I would be forbidden to speak forever. Everyone understands that this is the point,” he said.
“I am isolated from society because they want me to be silent. I promise as long as I’m alive I’ll never will be. My mission is to tell the truth. I will not give up the truth even behind bars. After all, quoting the classic: ‘Lie is the religion of slaves.’”
Yashin, also a close ally of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, came to prominence during protests he helped organize between 2011 and 2012 against Putin’s re-election for a third term.
Yashin remained a fierce Putin critic for years to come, also serving as a municipal deputy in a small Moscow municipality before being barred from running for public office again.
In June, he was sentenced to 15 days behind bars for being disobedient to police, charges he described at the time as part of a pressure campaign by the authorities to force him to leave Russia.
Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, who is on Russia’s wanted list and lives in exile in London, told CNN Yashin was “an extremely brave person” who “chose to remain in Russia and to speak against the war.”
He added he believed Yashin was a symbol of Russian resistance against the war.