Russian authorities have launched criminal investigations into well-known opposition figure Ilya Yashin.
His lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said on Facebook on Tuesday that he was being investigated for “spreading false information about the Russian military”.
Prokhorov later said, according to Russian news agencies, that the investigation was initiated because Yashin spoke on his YouTube channel in April about “the murder of civilians in Bucha”. Russian units are accused of war crimes after several hundred bodies of civilians were discovered in the suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv after the retreat of the soldiers. There are clear indications of this, such as testimonies, videos and satellite images. Russian President Vladimir Putin later honored the brigade present in Bucha.
Prokhorov already in prison
Prokhorov now wrote on Facebook that the investigators had called him and informed him that Yashin’s house was being searched. “I’ll go there.” Another of Yashin’s lawyers later stated that the house search had taken place.
The 39-year-old was sentenced to 15 days in prison on June 28 for “disobedience to the police” and was still in prison on Tuesday. Before the new allegations became known, Yashin had reported in online services that he should be released on Wednesday. “Maybe they’ll let me out, maybe they won’t,” he wrote.
“Spreading false information” about the Russian military can be punished in Russia with up to 15 years in prison. The law criminalizes criticism of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and was passed after the operation began.
“The real reasons for my arrest are of course political in nature”
Since the military offensive against Ukraine, repression of government critics in Russia has increased. The few members of the opposition left in the country are driven into exile or imprisoned.
Yashin, a well-known opponent of President Vladimir Putin, had decided to stay and publicly condemned Russia’s war of aggression. “The real reasons for my arrest are of course political in nature,” Yashin said when he was arrested in June. “I am an opposition, independent local MP, a critic of President Putin and an opponent of the war in Ukraine.”
Yashin rose to prominence in Russia during the anti-Kremlin protest movement in 2011-2012. He is close to the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a nine-year sentence in a penal camp.