A Russian politician and Vladimir Putin critic has been detained for the criticisms he has levied at Moscow for its deadly war in Ukraine, videos posted to social media Wednesday showed.
Yevgeny Roizman, the former mayor of the eastern city of Ekaterinburg and supporter of opposition leader Alexei Navalny – was removed from his home and taken by masked men wearing camouflage.
Roizman was seen in the video telling onlookers that he was being investigated for breaking a law the forbids “discrediting” Russia’s armed forces.
“Basically for one phrase: ‘the invasion of Ukraine’,” he reportedly told onlookers.
“The essence is that I called the war a war. That’s it. Unfortunately, I have no defense,” he said in a second video posted by Russian media outlet RIA.
Putin has refused to call his deadly campaign in Ukraine a war or an invasion and has instead referred to it only as a “special military operation.”
Roizman acknowledged the threat of arrest he faced for his outspoken criticism in a July interview with AFP.
Telling the outlet, “I have no illusions. But I also have no fear.”
A spokesperson for Navalny, who has been in a Russian prison since January 2021, said, “Putin decided to celebrate six months of the war with Ukraine with the demonstrative detention of the last remaining opposition politician at large.”
Days after Russia’s February invasion, the Kremlin passed sweeping laws that imposed harsh sentences on those found to be spreading what it deems to be “fake news” about the Russian armed forces or the war in Ukraine.
Russian news outlets on Wednesday said Roizman could face up to five years in prison.
Though Human Rights Watch in March said the new laws that criminalize war protesting and independent war reporting could carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.