Russia sentences two journalists criticizing the invasion of Ukraine to 11 years in prison

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced journalists Ruslan Leviev and Michael Nacke to 11 years in prison for posting a video on YouTube that contained “false information” about the armed forces in March 2022, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began Russian authorities are taking up the public prosecutor’s statement published on Telegram. Tuesday’s ruling also bans both journalists “from uploading material to the Internet for five years.”

Ruslan Leviev, real name Ruslan Karpuk, is one of the founders of the independent war observer Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which conducts open-source research on the Russian military and has been labeled an “undesirable organization” by parts of the prosecution While Michael Nacke, a former radio host of the defunct Echo Moscow, has a YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers where he posts information about the war in Ukraine.

The two currently live abroad and there has been an arrest warrant against them since May 2022. The authorities accuse them of “falsification of evidence” and political hatred. According to the independent media outlet Mediazona, the key witness for the prosecution is a resident of Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, surnamed Sachkov, who appeared in court as an “internet user”.

Many critics of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and of President Vladimir Putin have fled abroad to escape repression in Russia. After the invasion began, the Kremlin instituted a series of punitive measures to punish its critics. For example, it is forbidden to use the terms “war” or “invasion” in connection with the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine or to accuse the army of war crimes. Many known and anonymous Russians have been imprisoned for these reasons.

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