Yevgueni Roizmana leading critic of Kremlin and popular former mayor, appeared on trial Wednesday on charges of discrediting the Russian military over the offensive in Ukraine.
Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, roizman60, pleaded not guilty at the start of the hearing in Yekaterinburgaccording to a live broadcast of the process on YouTube.
Yevgueni Roizman he faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Roizman, who remains in Russia without being jailed, became Russia’s most prominent opposition mayor in 2013 and served five years in office in Yekaterinburga city in the Urals.
After openly denouncing the president Vladimir Putin and his offensive in Ukraine, Roizman says he is aware that he can go to prison at any time.
He is very popular in Yekaterinburg and beyond, as well as a friend of the imprisoned Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny.
He remained relatively untouched until authorities opened a criminal investigation against him in August 2022 on charges of “discrediting” the Russian military in comments about Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Roizman is known for using crude language and has peppered his Twitter account with profanity to mock authorities, much to the delight of his followers.
Russia is experiencing a historic repression against dissidents, in the midst of the military operation in Ukraine, and all its opposition figures, except Roizman, are in prison or exiled.
“I have no illusions,” declared the opponent last year in an interview with AFP. “But I’m not afraid either.” she said.
The lanky politician rose to fame as an anti-drug activist fighting Russia’s severe drug epidemic.
As mayor, he was accessible to the residents and received the most needy people to help them solve their problems.
He resigned when the authorities annulled the municipal elections, but remained involved in his charitable projects.
Russia’s main opponent, Navalny, who mobilized major protests against Putin, is jailed, in what his supporters see as punishment from Moscow for defying the Kremlin.
This Wednesday he described as “absurd” the accusations of “extremism” against him.
The authorities accused him of “an absurd accusation that threatens me with a sentence of up to 35 years” in prison, he criticized Navalniy
The 46-year-old opponent, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence for embezzlement and other charges, considered that the next stage will be “perpetuity.”
Imprisoned since 2021 after returning to Russia after being treated in Germany for a poisoning he accuses the Kremlin of, he denounced an “illegal attempt” to try him behind closed doors.
Kira Iarmych, the spokeswoman for Navalny’s organization, told AFP that the trial “could start soon” due to the desire of the prosecution to “limit the time for familiarization” of the defense with the “elements of the case.”
(With information from AFP)
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