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St. Petersburg Politician Charged Over Bucha Massacre Claims

Boris Vishnevsky. Anna Plotnikova / VOA

A member of St. Petersburg's legislative assembly, Boris Vishnevsky, has been charged with “discrediting the Russian army,” the local newspaper reported Monday. 

Prosecutors charged prominent opposition deputy Boris Vishnevsky and former deputy Maxim Reznik with spreading “material about the city of Bucha” and information on the “large number of civilians killed,” the court told the independent media outlet Rotonda. 

The charges relate to an open letter Vishnevksy signed alongside other prominent Russian figures asking Russia's Investigative Committee chairman Alexander Bastrykin to investigate the massacre of civilians that took place in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha in March. 

Both politicians said they had been unaware of the charges before they were announced, though Reznik, who left Russia on Sep. 16, broadly welcomed the news.

“Overall I am glad. If this hadn't happened, I would start to think I wasn't working hard enough,” he said. 

If found guilty, both men could face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($715). 

Vishnevsky, a member of the liberal Yabloko party who has remained in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, said that prosecutors had not asked him to attend the police station for initial questioning as is usual protocol in the building of a case.

Vishnevksy made the news in 2021 for being forced to run against multiple doppelgängers bearing his name and surname in St. Petersburg's municipal elections that year and has been a thorn in the side of the authorities for some time.

In December, the politician revealed that the St. Petersburg authorities had donated $1.5 million from the city's municipal budget toward the reconstruction of Mariupol, the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian port city largely destroyed by Russian troops last year.

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