Write to Russia: Ilya Yashin – imprisoned for speaking out about Russian war crimes in Ukraine
Photo: Wikipedia

In December 2022, Ilya Yashin, one of the most prominent opposition politicians in Russia, was sentenced to eight and a half years’ imprisonment on charges of ‘knowingly disseminating false information about the Russian army for motives of political hatred.’ His ‘crime’ was to speak out about apparent war crimes committed by Russian forces in Russia, in particular about the killings in Bucha. Memorial has designated Ilya Yashin a political prisoner; Amnesty International has declared him to be a prisoner of conscience.

Already an activist with many years experience, Ilya Yashin had been elected head of the municipal council of the Krasnoselsky district in Moscow from 2017-2021. In 2021, he had been barred from running in the Moscow district council elections on the fabricated grounds that he was ‘extremist’. 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. In May that year 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). A criminal case for ‘knowingly disseminating false information about the use of the Russian army on motives of political hatred’ was then opened against him (Article 207.3, Part 2 [e], of the Russian Criminal Code) on the basis of a broadcast on YouTube of 7 April 2022 in which Ilya Yashin criticised the war and spoke in detail about the killings in Bucha near Kyiv. On 9 December 2022 a Moscow court sentenced Yashin to eight and a half years’ imprisonment.

In his final address to the court at his trial, Ilya Yashin said, among other things:

Finally, I want to address the people who have followed this legal proceeding, who have helped me all these months and are awaiting the sentence with trepidation. Friends! No matter what decision the court issues, no matter how harsh the sentence, this must not break you. I understand how hard it is for you now, and how the sense of impotence and hopelessness is tormenting you. But you must not give up. Please, do not lapse into despair and do not forget that this is your country and mine. It is worth fighting for. Be brave, do not retreat in the face of evil, and resist. Stand up for your street, for your cities. And most important, stand up for each other. There are more of us than it seems, and all of us together are a tremendous force. And don’t worry about me. I promise I’ll endure all the trials, I won’t complain, and I’ll take this journey with dignity. But please, you have to promise to maintain your optimism and not forget how to smile. Because the minute we lose our ability to rejoice in life, they win. Believe me, Russia will be free and happy.

Ilya Yashin, final speech at his trial

Write to Russia – Write to Ilya Yashin

The Russian penal system does not allow any messages to prisoners that are written in foreign languages, but Write to Russia is here to help you. To write to Ilya Yashin to show your support for hIm, please send your letter as an email to us at: letters-to-prisoners@protonmail.com. We shall translate the letter into Russian for you and, depending on your request, either mail the translated letter on your behalf to Ilya or return the letter to you by email for posting in an envelope with an address written in Russian. If we send the letter on your behalf, we ask that you compensate us for the cost of postage from the UK (currently £2.20 – $2.73; €2.52). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address to write to Ilya Yashin is:

215500, Смоленская область, Сафоновский район, г. Сафоново, мкр-н Горный, п. Шахта 3, ФКУ ИК-3 УФСИН России по Смоленской области, Яшину Илье Валерьевичу, 1983 г. р. 

If you would like to write to another person unjustly deprived of liberty in Russia, the project Write to Russia has so far highlighted the following cases:

  1. Sasha (Alexandra) Skochilenko – imprisoned for peaceful anti-war protest – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-2/
  2. Mikhail Zhilin – imprisoned for refusing to fight against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-3/
  3. Aleksei Arbuzenko – imprisoned for protesting the war against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-4/
  4. Aleksei Navalny – imprisoned for peaceful participation in electoral politics – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-5/
  5. Evgeny Zinich- imprisoned for his faith – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-6/
  6. Alsu Kurmasheva – held on remand for her work as a journalist – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-7/
  7. Bakhrom Khamroev – imprisoned for his political and religious beliefs and human rights work – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-8
  8. Andrei Kapatsyna – imprisoned for his religious beliefs and refusing to fight in Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-9
  9. Gregory Vinter – imprisoned for speaking out about the killings in Bucha and Irpen – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-10
  10. Aleksei Gorinov – imprisoned for speaking out against Russia’s war on Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-11/
  11. Vladimir Kara-Murza – imprisoned for speaking out against Russia’s war on Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-12/
  12. Darya Poliudova – imprisoned for exercising her right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-13/

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