‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Ilya Yashin is a political prisoner 

26 July 2022

The politician Ilya Yashin has been remanded in custody on charges of disseminating ‘fake news’ about the Russian army

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Ilya Yashin a political prisoner. Yashin is being prosecuted for criticizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His prosecution violates the right to freedom of speech and is intended to silence the voices within Russia of all opponents of the war against Ukraine. Furthermore, remanding Yashin in custody is aimed at permanently excluding representatives of the opposition from Russian political institutions.

We demand the immediate release of Ilya Yashin and that all criminal prosecutions under the anti-constitutional Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code be terminated.

Who is Ilya Yashin and what are the charges against him?

Ilya Yashin is one of the most prominent opposition politicians in Russia. In 2017, Yashin and his associates succeeded in winning a majority in elections to the Krasnoselsk district municipal council in Moscow, defeating pro-government candidates. In the years 2017-2021, Yashin headed the municipal council of this Moscow district.

After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Yashin repeatedly spoke out against the actions of the Russian authorities. As a result, in late April he was questioned as a witness in the prosecutions of Aleksei Gorinov and Elena Kotenochkina, two other municipal deputies from Krasnoselsk district charged with spreading ‘fake news’ about the use of the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 2 [a, b, e], of the Russian Criminal Code). In May, Yashin was fined 90,000 roubles on three counts of ‘discrediting’ the Russian army (Article 20.3.3, Part 1, of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences).

On 27 June 2022 Ilya Yashin was detained in Moscow and jailed for 15 days on charges of disobeying a police officer (Article 19.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences).

On 12 July, even before the end of his jail term, it became known that a criminal case had been opened against Yashin for disseminating information known to be false about the use of the Russian army on motives of political hatred (Article 207.3, Part 2 [e], of the Russian Criminal Code). The basis for this charge was a broadcast on YouTube of 7 April 2022 in which the politician spoke in detail about the tragedy in Bucha near Kiev.

The next day, the Basmanny district court in Moscow remanded the politician in custody. The hearing was held in camera.

A few days before Yashin was remanded in custody, Aleksei Gorinov was sentenced to seven years in prison on similar charges.

Why do we consider Ilya Yashin a political prisoner?

Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code criminalising dissemination of information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army contradicts the Russian Constitution, Russia’s international obligations and fundamental principles of law.

Article 207.3 criminalises any statements about the use of the Russian armed forces and the activities of Russian state bodies abroad. In the course of an armed conflict, it is not always possible to establish the accuracy of information disseminated by various sources. Still less is it possible to establish whether the person who disseminated a given piece of information knew it was false. Taken together, these deficiencies determine the unlawful nature of Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.

The timing and context of the introduction of Article 207.3 into the Russian Criminal Code – after the beginning of large-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine – allow us to assert that this article was specifically intended as a means to prosecute critics of the Russian authorities.This relates in full to the prosecution of Ilya Yashin.

The broadcast for which Ilya Yashin is being prosecuted includes the presentation of various positions, including the official position of the Russian Ministry of Defence, and their reasoned analysis, inviting the viewer to draw their own conclusions about the events. Therefore, Yashin did not disseminate any false information, much less information known to be false, about the use of the Russian armed forces. His actions do not even contain any evidence of the crime defined by the unconstitutional article under which he has been charged.

More information about the case of Ilya Yashin and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project is available on our Telegram channel.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

The latest information about the case can be found on Ilya Yashin’s Telegram Channel.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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