A Moscow municipal deputy who was imprisoned under Russia’s wartime censorship laws faces additional criminal charges of justifying terrorism, his supporters said Monday.
Alexei Gorinov, 62, was sentenced to seven years in prison in April 2022 for spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian military, charges that he denies.
Gorinov’s supporters say investigators launched a new criminal case against him in September after he talked with other inmates about Ukraine's Azov Brigade and the bombing of the Crimean Bridge.
The charges of justifying terrorism carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.
Gorinov’s supporters said that experts appointed by state investigators had found “psychological and linguistic signs” that Gorinov justified terrorism in private conversations.
“[Gorinov had] formed an opinion among convicts that the activities of a terrorist organization… as well as sabotage and terrorist acts on Russia’s transport objects are permissible,” his support group said.
The group's message, which was shared on the messaging app Telegram, did not specify whether Gorinov spoke favorably about Ukraine’s Azov Brigade or the October 2022 blast that damaged a section of the Crimean bridge.
Last month, Gorinov revealed that the authorities had opened a new criminal case against him into the justification of terrorism but he did not specify the nature of the charges.
The jailed politician argued that he was being falsely accused since his original prison sentence over war fakes “looks unconvincing in the eyes of the public.”
“That means they needed to come up with something else to make me a hardened criminal, to show that I was imprisoned for a reason,” Gorinov wrote in a letter shared on Oct. 13.
Russia’s human rights group Memorial has designated Gorinov as a political prisoner.
He was the first person to receive prison time under Russia’s new laws criminalizing anti-war protests amid the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.