Russian Elected Official Who Criticized Putin's War Given 7 Years Jail Time

A Moscow city councilor was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday after he was accused of criticizing Russia's war in Ukraine and was found guilty of spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian army.

Alexei Gorinov, 60, was arrested in April after speaking against the war during a work meeting in March that was captured on video, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Guardian reported Friday that during the meeting, Gorinov criticized a proposal to hold a children's drawing contest and a dancing festival in his constituency while "children were dying" in Ukraine.

"I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine," the councilor said at the time, according to the newspaper.

Official Who Criticized Putin's War Sentenced
A Moscow city councilor was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday after he was accused of criticizing Russia's war in Ukraine, and found guilty of spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian army. Above, Gorinov stands inside a glass cell during the vedict hearing in his trial at a courthouse in Moscow on Friday. Kirill Kudryavtsev

Bruce Millar, Amnesty International's Eastern Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, called Gorinov's sentence "shocking."

"It is an unlawful reprisal for expressing his views, and not the administration of justice. Aleksei Gorinov did not commit any internationally recognized crime by calling the war unleashed by Vladimir Putin on Ukraine what it is, a criminal war. The Russian judiciary has once again sided with a government intent in silencing all forms of dissent," Millar said in a statement Friday.

According to Amnesty International, Gorinov, who did not plead guilty, continued to criticize the war during his court hearing.

"I am convinced that this war is the fastest route to dehumanization, when the line between good and evil is blurred. War is always violence and blood, torn bodies and severed limbs. It is always death. I do not accept this and reject it," the councilor said.

Newsweek has reached out to Amnesty International for additional comment.

Agence France-Presse reported Gorinov is the first elected opposition politician to be sentenced to prison for criticizing the conflict.

Earlier this year, Russia's parliament passed legislation imposing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading "fake" news about Russia's military. The development led many media organizations to leave the country.

However, others have faced punishments after Russia accused them of speaking out against the war in Ukraine, and several party members, lawyers, and activists, who have denounced it, have been arrested and fined.

In April, a Moscow court fined a man for wearing yellow and blue sneakers, which Russian authorities said was a sign of support for Ukraine. The man was detained by local authorities in the center of the country's capital near a protest, but his lawyer argued that he wasn't involved with the demonstration and was out buying gifts for his family.