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8 Jul, 2022 15:01

Russia hands out first jail term for ‘fakes’ about military

An opposition representative from Moscow has been sentenced to seven years in prison
Russia hands out first jail term for ‘fakes’ about military

A Moscow court sentenced a local city councillor, Alexey Gorinov, to seven years behind bars on Friday. The legislator was found guilty of deliberately disseminating ‘false information’ about Russia’s military after he opposed plans to hold an art competition for children in his district while “children are dying” in Ukraine.

The politician pleaded not guilty and staged a protest during the hearing, displaying a placard reading, “Do you still need this war?” from the defendant’s booth. The verdict caused a minor disturbance in the courtroom, with three supporters of Gorinov reportedly being briefly detained over failing to comply with the bailiffs’ orders.

The legislator was found guilty of “deliberately disseminating false information about the Russian military or the state bodies while using a public position to his advantage.” The offense carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars or a major fine of up to five million rubles (nearly $80,000).

The court fully agreed with the arguments presented by the prosecution, slapping Gorinov with a seven-year jail term, as requested by the prosecution.  

Gorinov found himself in the media spotlight – and subsequent legal trouble – after the scandalous meeting with local legislators in Moscow’s central Krasnoselsky district in mid-March. During the meeting, Gorinov strongly opposed holding a drawing contest for children in the district, insisting that the event was inappropriate because “children are dying” in the ongoing war in Ukraine. His stance was supported by the local chief MP, Elena Kotenochkina, who branded Russia a “fascist” state altogether.

While Gorinov ended up in custody after multiple complaints were filed by several public figures with Russian prosecutors, Kotenochkina managed to evade the law and fled abroad. She was later arrested in-absentia and is currently being sought for the same charges as Gorinov.

Gorinov’s case seems to be the first time a person accused of disseminating ‘fakes’ about Russia’s military received a real jail term. Earlier this year, at least two people were found guilty of that offense, with one of them fined one million rubles ($15,900) and another reportedly receiving a three-year suspended sentence.

Russia has tightened its legislation amid the ongoing military operation in neighboring Ukraine, launched in late February. Apart from outlawing the spread of ‘false information’ about the military and state bodies, it has also criminalized “public actions” aimed at tarnishing the image of Russian Armed Forces.