A Russian court gave a two-year suspended sentence Thursday to a St. Petersburg woman who left a note on the grave of President Vladimir Putin's parents that said they had "raised a freak and a killer.”
The court found Irina Tsybaneva, 60, guilty of desecrating burial places motivated by political hatred. Her lawyer said she didn’t plead guilty because she hadn’t desecrated the grave physically or sought publicity for her action.
The note that Tsybaneva placed on the guarded grave on the eve of Putin’s birthday in October read: “Parents of a maniac, take him to your place. He causes so much pain and trouble. The whole world prays for his death. Death to Putin. You raised a freak and a killer.”
Since Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022, the government has waged a crackdown on dissent unseen since the Soviet era.
In another case, a Russian government agency added actor Artur Smolyaninov and a former consultant who advised the Ukrainian president's office to a list of “extremists and terrorists.”
In a January interview with the Europe edition of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Smolyaninov stated that hypothetically, he would take part in hostilities only on Ukraine's side.
The Ukrainian presidential consultant, Oleksiy Arestovich, resigned after stating online that a Russian missile that caused the deaths of 45 people in the city of Dnipro hit a residential building as a result of Ukrainian air defenses.
In other developments Thursday:
-- A Russian military court sentenced Nikita Tushkanov, a history teacher from Komi, to five and a-half years in prison for comments he made about last year's explosion of the Kerch bridge linking Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula to mainland Russia. Tushkanov was found guilty of justifying terrorism and “discrediting” the Russian army. The teacher published social media posts in October calling the bridge explosion “a birthday present” for Putin.
— Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny reported on Twitter that he was returned to a solitary confinement punishment cell only a day after his release from one. He didn't speculate why. Navalny, 46, who exposed official corruption and organized massive anti-Kremlin protests, was arrested in Moscow in January 2021 after recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. He initially received a 2½-year prison sentence for a parole violation. Last year, he was sentenced to a nine-year term for fraud and contempt of court. He's serving time at a maximum-security prison 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow.
The Kremlin's sweeping campaign of repression has criminalized criticism of the war. In addition to fines and jail sentences, those accused have been fired, blacklisted, branded as “foreign agents” or fled Russia.