December 10, 2022

The State is the Real Enemy of the People


The State is the Real Enemy of the People
Ilya Yashin at demonstration in 2019. Alexei Mironov

Last spring, antiwar opposition politician Ilya Yashin, 39, posted a YouTube video about potential Russian war crimes in Bucha, near Kiev, crimes that were already being documented by Western journalists and Ukrainian officials.

He was arrested two months later, in June, charged with "discrediting the Russian armed forces," but his channel on Youtube has continued to publish videos debunking Kremlin lies.

Yesterday, on December 9, he was convicted on the charges against him and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. Yet he was defiant and upbeat in his final statement, saying that "the verdict's authors optimistically evaluate Putin's future, too optimistically in my view."

Further, Yashin said:

“The trial was supposed to serve as the denunciation of ‘an enemy of the people,’ i.e. me, but it turned into an antiwar tribunal, and, in response, we only heard the prosecutor’s incoherent Cold War slogans... I can only repeat what was said on the day of my arrest: I am not afraid, and you should not be afraid. Changes are coming.

"My mission is to tell the truth. I spoke it in city squares, in television studios, in parliamentary stands. I will not give up on the truth even behind bars. After all, to quote the classics, “a lie is a religion for slaves, and only truth can be the god of a free man.”

Yashin rose to prominence during the mass protests following Vladimir Putin's re-election in 2011 and 2012. He went on to lead the People’s Freedom Party, known as PARNAS, and was elected as a municipal official in Moscow.

Yashin is a close friend of Alexei Navalny, also an imprisoned dissident, whose lawyers released a statement after the verdict was handed down:

“I have known Ilya Yashin since he was 18 years old, and he is probably the first friend I made in politics. Another shameless and lawless Putin verdict will not silence Ilya and should not intimidate the honest people of Russia. This is another reason we must fight and I have no doubt that we will win in the end.”

For his part, President Putin, when quizzed at a news conference on the day the verdict was handed down if he thought giving Yashin “eight years for words is too brutal,” replied, “Who is he? Interfering in the work of the country is unacceptable and I consider it inappropriate to question the decision of the court.”

The full text of Yashin's final remarks machine-translated by Google, can be found here.

 
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