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Russian Twitch Star Jailed for Criticizing War in Ukraine

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As part of the escalating crackdown on free speech in Russia, Twitch streamer Anna Bazhutova, known online as “Yokobovich,” has been condemned to a prison term of five and a half years. Her offense? Criticizing the Russian military’s actions in Ukraine.

Arrested in 2023, Bazhutova, a popular figure on the streaming platform with over 9,000 followers, faced charges for her broadcasts that included witness accounts of atrocities by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

According to The Moscow Times, the court’s decision came down this month, with Bazhutova found guilty of “spreading false information” about military operations, a charge under Article 207.3 of Russia’s criminal code that can attract a sentence as severe as 15 years. Despite the severe potential maximum, Bazhutova’s sentence was set at just over a third of this possible duration.

Details surrounding the exact timing of the incriminating broadcast are murky, with sources citing either 2022 or 2023 as the year it occurred. Nevertheless, the impact was immediate and severe, drawing ire from authorities and leading to her arrest. Before her trial, Russian police raided her home, seizing electronic devices and detaining Bazhutova, who has been in custody since August 2023.

Her troubles with authorities were compounded in March 2023 when her Twitch channel was abruptly banned, something Twitch is yet to comment on.

Bazhutova’s case is not an isolated incident but part of a broader pattern of punitive measures against those who speak out against the Russian state’s actions in Ukraine.

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