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Recipients of Nemtsov Prize sentenced to prison for criticizing war in Ukraine

The recipients of this year’s Boris Nemtsov Prize, awarded by the foundation in his name, are Russian citizens: Maksim Lypkan, Maria Ponomarenko, Vladimir Rumyantsev, Mikhail Simonov, and Nikita Tushkanov. They have ended up being either tried or sentenced to prison for their critical comments regarding the invasion of Ukraine.

The foundation’s head, Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of the late Boris Nemtsov, former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader, announced the decision on Monday.

She reminded that in Russia, criticizing the war against Ukraine can result in imprisonment. “Mass protests are always visible, but individual protests often go unnoticed. Nevertheless, they exist,” said Zhanna Nemtsova, as quoted by the independent portal Mediazona.

Out of the five prize recipients, four have been sentenced to prison, and one is awaiting a verdict in cases related to spreading “fake news” about the actions of the Russian army. Laws enabling imprisonment for statements deemed false, contradicting official propaganda, were introduced in Russia in 2022, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.

The Nemtsov Prize is awarded for courage in advocating pro-democratic ideas aligned with the beliefs of the late Russian politician. One of the goals of the foundation is to “engage Russia and its citizens in the European agenda and promote European values.”

Last year, the foundation awarded its prize to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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