Moscow court convicts Colombia citizen 5 years for belittling army

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A court in Moscow has sentenced a Colombian man to five years and two months in prison for “discrediting the Russian armed forces.’’

The accused is to serve his sentence in a general penitentiary institution in Russia, Interfax news agency reported from the courtroom on Tuesday.

It is the first known case in which a foreign citizen has been sentenced to prison in Russia for discrediting the army.

Russia imposed strict regulations concerning how its war in Ukraine would be described, shortly after launching the invasion in February 2022.

Moscow insists on referring to the conflict as a “special military operation.’’

Stiffer penalties were introduced in March for the “slander’’ or “discrediting’’ of the country’s military, allowing jail sentences of up to 15 years.

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Several opponents of the war have already been sentenced to years in prison for allegedly discrediting the army, although many of these are internationally considered to be political prisoners.

The prosecutor said the Colombian had hidden mobile phones in a shopping centre in the capital in 2022, which were then used to spread `false reports about the actions of the Russian armed forces, including the murder of civilians.’’

The Columbian was alleged to have been acting on behalf of and paid by a foreign organisation linked to the U.S. State Department.

Human rights activists have accused the Russian army of numerous war crimes, including a massacre in the Kiev suburb of Bucha.

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The Russian authorities have continued to deny the accusations.

The jailed Colombian has a Russian residence permit and has lived in Russia for years, and also has a family there, according to media reports.

Before Tuesday’s conviction of a foreign national, the Russian authorities brought a case against a guest worker in Sakhalin in the far east.

The worker was fined and expelled for “discrediting the armed forces’’ and is subject to a 70-year ban on entering the country. (dpa/NAN)

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