A 61-year-old retired airline pilot was sentenced Friday to over eight years in prison for allegedly planning to join the Ukrainian army, a Russian court said.
Igor Pokusin, born in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, poured paint on a pro-army banner in March 2022 and wrote the words “Glory to Ukraine” on the wall of a local museum in the Siberian town where he lives.
After serving a six-month suspended sentence for those crimes, he was charged with “treason” based on wiretapped calls with relatives in Ukraine, rights groups said.
Prosecutors alleged that Pokusin, who according to local media suffers from multiple health problems, planned to travel to Ukraine to “fight against the Russian army”.
“Pokusin was unable to follow through with his actions,” the top court in Russia’s Siberian Khakassia region said, sentencing him to eight years and one month in prison for “state treason”.
Pokusin acknowledged his opposition to the conflict, the Perviy Otdel rights group said, but denied that he planned to “fight on anyone’s side”.
Moscow made criticism of its army illegal shortly after launching its Ukraine offensive in February 2022, and thousands of the conflict’s opponents have been censored, jailed or exiled.
Pokusin’s sentencing came a day after a human rights activist was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly “discrediting” Moscow’s army in a social media comment.