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Opposition Politician Accused of ‘Discrediting’ Russian Military

Lev Shlosberg attends a party congress on Dec. 19, 2015. Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

A Russian opposition politician has been accused of “discrediting” the military’s actions in Ukraine a month after police searched his home.

Lev Shlosberg, who chairs the regional branch of the liberal party Yabloko in the northwestern city of Pskov, said police filed administrative charges against him late Thursday evening. 

“Interestingly, the protocol was based on a restricted social media page. Its subject was a direct quote from a state channel a month ago,” Shlosberg wrote on his Telegram channel without providing further details. 

Shlosberg’s wife, Zhanna, faces similar charges arising from posts on her VKontakte social media page, according to Shlosberg. 

The couple could each be fined between 30,000 rubles ($363) and 50,000 rubles ($6,000) if found guilty under the law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed after ordering an invasion of Ukraine.  

“Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses is designed to keep people silent,” Shlosberg wrote, referring to the law.  

“The ideal goal is to scare people into not even thinking.”

Russia has clamped down on anti-war protests, the independent press and social media as it seeks to limit information about events in Ukraine.

Authorities have opened nearly 1,000 administrative cases of “discrediting” the Russian military’s actions in the month and a half of its war in Ukraine, according to independent police-monitoring website OVD-Info.

At least 80 people face up to 15 years in prison under tougher legislation that bans the spread of “fake news” about the Russian military.  

Police searched the homes of Shlosberg and other Pskov-based activists and journalists last month after the regional governor filed a lawsuit over anonymous online criticism of his support for the war in Ukraine. 

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