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Moscow Court Sentences Twitch Streamer to Prison for Livestreaming Testimony on Bucha Atrocities

WorldRussiaMoscow Court Sentences Twitch Streamer to Prison for Livestreaming Testimony on Bucha Atrocities

In a controversial verdict that has drawn international attention, a Moscow court on Wednesday sentenced Twitch streamer Anna Bazhutova to five and a half years in prison.

Bazhutova, 30, was found guilty of spreading “fake” information about the Russian military’s actions in Bucha, Ukraine, during a livestream on her channel.

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The trial, which took place at the Ostankino District Court in northern Moscow, has ignited a fierce debate over freedom of speech and the Kremlin’s ongoing narrative about the war in Ukraine.

“It’s f***** up. It’s disgusting and vile,” Bazhutova declared from the defendant’s box following the court’s decision. Her outburst encapsulated the frustration and disbelief of her supporters, who see the sentence as a harsh crackdown on dissent.

The charges stem from a broadcast in June 2023, in which Bazhutova shared witness testimonies from Bucha residents.

These testimonies alleged that the Russian military had committed a massacre of civilians during their retreat from the city in the spring of 2022.

These claims are part of a broader accusation by Kyiv, which holds the Russian military responsible for the deaths in Bucha, a charge Moscow vehemently denies, asserting instead that the killings were staged by Western powers to discredit Russia.

Bazhutova’s livestream quickly drew the ire of pro-war Russian bloggers, who reported her to law enforcement. In August, police raided Bazhutova’s home, confiscating her electronic devices. Shortly after, her Twitch channel was blocked, silencing her voice on the platform.

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“This is a harsh sentence. We will appeal,” stated Andrei Nevrev, Bazhutova’s lawyer. Nevrev criticized the ruling, arguing that it represented an excessive punishment for what he characterized as a legitimate exercise of free speech.

The case against Bazhutova has highlighted the Kremlin’s stringent control over information regarding the conflict in Ukraine.

Since the invasion began, Russian authorities have implemented laws criminalizing the dissemination of what they deem “false information” about the military.

These measures have been used to suppress independent reporting and silence dissenting voices, both domestically and abroad.

Human rights organizations and free speech advocates have condemned Bazhutova’s sentencing.

“This verdict is a clear violation of freedom of expression and a stark reminder of the lengths to which the Russian government will go to control the narrative about its actions in Ukraine,” said a spokesperson for Human Rights Watch.

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The Kremlin maintains a tight grip on media coverage of the war, promoting a narrative that portrays the conflict as a necessary action to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine and to counter Western aggression.

Any deviation from this official line is met with swift and severe punishment, as evidenced by Bazhutova’s case.

International reactions to the verdict have been swift. Western governments and media organizations have decried the ruling as an attempt to intimidate and silence those who challenge the official Russian narrative.

“We call on the Russian authorities to release Anna Bazhutova immediately and to respect the fundamental human rights of free speech and free press,” said a statement from the U.S. State Department.

As Bazhutova prepares to appeal her sentence, her case serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for truth and transparency in an increasingly repressive media landscape.

For many, she has become a symbol of resistance against authoritarianism, and her plight continues to garner widespread support both within Russia and internationally.

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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