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Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin gestures as he stands inside a glass cubicle in a courtroom, prior to a hearing in Moscow, Russia, on December 9. (Yury Kochetkov/AP)

Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin said on Friday that the “authors” of the “hysterical verdict” of a Moscow court handing him eight and a half years of jail time are “optimistic about Putin’s prospects,” according to a post on Yashin’s official Telegram account.

“The authors of the verdict are optimistic about Putin’s prospects. In my opinion, they are too optimistic,” he said.

“With this hysterical verdict, the government wants to intimidate us all, but in fact, it only shows its weakness.

“Strong leaders are calm and self-confident, and only weaklings seek to shut everyone up, burn out any dissent. So today it only remains for me to repeat what was said on the day of my arrest: I am not afraid, and you should not be,” the post added. 

The reaction came after a Moscow court announced the sentencing after finding Yashin guilty of spreading “false information” about the Russian army, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.

“But we also have no reason to be sad, because we have won this trial, friends,” Yashin continued. “We spoke the truth about war crimes and called for an end to the bloodshed.”

Russian investigators said 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.

Some background: Yashin, also a close ally of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, came to prominence during the protests between 2011 and 2012, which he helped organize against Putin’s re-election for the third term and unfair elections. Yashin remained a fierce Putin critic for years to come, also serving as a municipal deputy in small Moscow municipality before being barred from running for a public office.


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