×
Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Russia Sentences Ukrainian Woman to 12 Years for Balloon Protest

Kristina Lyubashenko Alexandra Astakhova / Mediazona

A Russian military court on Friday sentenced a Ukrainian woman to 12 years in prison for releasing blue-white-blue balloons — the colors of opposition to the Ukraine offensive — over Moscow last year.

Ukrainian citizen Kristina Lyubashenko, 35, was found guilty of taking part in a "terrorist" group and spreading "fake information" about the Russian Armed Forces, the state TASS news agency reported.

Prosecutors said she was acting on the orders of the anti-Kremlin Freedom of Russia Legion, which is banned in Russia.

The Legion, which is composed of Russians who side with Kyiv and oppose Moscow's military offensive against Ukraine, has launched several armed incursions into Russia.

The prosecution said Lyubashenko released the balloons into the sky above the Russian capital and installed speakers at a window in a residential building that blasted out "fake information" on Moscow's Ukraine offensive.

Independent Russian news site Mediazona quoted Lyubashenko's lawyer as saying she had fled to Switzerland from Ukraine in 2022 — at the start of Russia's full-scale military offensive against her country — and had been given refugee status there.

She had been living in Switzerland with her sick mother, elderly grandfather and two daughters, and had run into financial difficulties, Mediazona quoted lawyer Lyudmila Posmitnaya as saying.

In Switzerland, she met a man who presented himself as a fellow Ukrainian refugee, who lent her money before asking her to go to Moscow, Posmitnaya reportedly said.

The man had initially told her to release yellow and blue balloons, in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Lyubashenko had refused at first to install the speakers but the man became threatening and said she would lose custody of her daughters, according to the lawyer.

Mediazona said Lyubashenko told the court in Ukrainian: "I think you all understand how this case came about."

Since the start of the military offensive, Russia has massively cracked down on dissent and handed down harsh sentences to people convicted of acts of sabotage inside the country.

It has also banned publicly sympathizing with Ukraine.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more