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26 Dec, 2023 10:00

Ukrainian opposition politician jailed for five years

The country’s Prosecutor General says a former member of the Cherkasy City Council had expressed support for Russia
Ukrainian opposition politician jailed for five years

A court in Ukraine has sentenced a member of a banned opposition party to five years behind bars for expressing pro-Russian views in private conversations. The man, whose name has not been revealed, had served on the Cherkasy City Council before becoming an aide to an MP in the country’s parliament.

In March 2022, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine suspended the activities of the Opposition Platform – For Life political party. The authorities accused the party of operating in the interest of Moscow. In was eventually banned by a court ruling several months later.

In a message on its Telegram channel on Monday, Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General revealed that the defendant was found “guilty of justifying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and glorifying its participants.

According to the prosecutors, the former municipal council member aired his pro-Russian views “in conversations with his close relatives and acquaintances.” The man is said to have extolled Russia’s actions in Ukraine as well as President Vladimir Putin personally.

Officials quoted the defendant as saying: “To Russia’s victory on our long-suffering Ukrainian soil! It needs to be cleansed.

Earlier, the Office of the Prosecutor General reported levelling similar charges against a 62-year-old woman, who is also from the city of Cherkasy in Central Ukraine. The authorities said they believed she had justified Russia’s actions and compared the Ukrainian government to the Nazis in a phone conversation with her friend.

In 2020, criminal charges of high treason were filed against the former leader of the Opposition Platform – For Life, Viktor Medvedchuk, over his visit to Moscow, where he had met with top Russian officials. Sometime later, the politician was put under house arrest. However, in late February 2022, around the time Russia launched its military action against its neighbor, Medvedchuk absconded. He was recaptured several months later, and handed over to Moscow as part of a prisoner swap deal last September.

The exiled opposition figure has continued to criticize President Vladimir Zelensky’s administration. Earlier this month, Medvedchuk opined that the current leadership in Kiev has “turned out to be not just bad negotiators, but criminal amateurs.” He also accused the Ukrainian head of state of selling “out [Ukrainians] for cannon fodder” after being promised Western aid.

The politician claimed that President Zelensky is averse to the idea of peace negotiations with Moscow because such talks would prove to be a “sentence for Zelensky, not only political, but also criminal,” with Ukrainians likely to start asking him tough questions.