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A Russian court has sentenced Pussy Riot member Liudmila (Lucy) Stein 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.

The charges were based on a tweet she posted in March 2022 commenting on a video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting at Russian prisoners of war. 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.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, over 19,855 people have been detained in Russia for expressing anti-war views. Pussy Riot, known for their opposition activism, gained notoriety in 2012. After fleeing house arrest in Moscow with her girlfriend Maria Alyokhina, Stein eventually settled in Iceland, where they were granted citizenship in May 2023.

Prosecutors had asked for an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for Stein, who jokingly mentioned that they had bet on a nine-year sentence. 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.

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