Member of Pussy Riot sentenced to six years in prison in Russia for spreading misinformation about the Ukraine conflict.

Russian authorities sentenced Liudmila Stein, a member of the activist group Pussy Riot, to six years in prison in absentia for spreading false information about the Russian Armed Forces. The Prosecutor’s Office had requested an eight-year sentence with a four-year internet ban. Stein, who is abroad and wanted by Russia since May 2022, was accused of publicly disseminating deliberately false information about the armed forces, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Stein had previously been sentenced to one year of restricted freedom for violating sanitary regulations during a demonstration in support of opposition leader Alexi Navalny. She later cut off her electronic ankle bracelet as ordered by the court and left Russia, receiving a fine in absentia for discrediting the Armed Forces. The court stated that Stein, a former Moscow municipal deputy, would serve her sentence once extradited to Russia.

The ongoing crackdown on dissent in Russia has led to increased repression against activists and opposition figures, with many facing severe punishment for speaking out against the government’s actions. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, over 19,855 people have been detained in Russia for expressing anti-war views. Pussy Riot gained notoriety in 2012 after their protest against President Vladimir Putin’s human rights record at the Sochi Olympics. After fleeing house arrest in Moscow with her girlfriend Maria Alyokhina, Stein eventually settled in Iceland and was granted citizenship in May 2023.

By Samantha Johnson

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