Russian court sentences Novaya Europe contributor Konstantin Sonin to 8.5 years in prison

Konstantin Sonin. Photo:  X

Konstantin Sonin. Photo: X

A court in Moscow has sentenced economist and frequent Novaya Gazeta Europe contributor Konstantin Sonin in absentia to eight and a half years in prison for spreading “false information” about the Russian army, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.

Sonin, who has been a professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy since 2015, was previously also the scientific director of the Faculty of Economic Sciences at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics until his dismissal in 2022.

A criminal case was opened against Sonin in March 2023 for three unspecified Telegram posts he had written between April and July 2022. Sonin said he thought that the posts in question were likely ones about the civilian deaths in Bucha or the Russian missile strike on Mariupol’s drama theatre in the early days of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In May 2023 Sonin was added to the wanted list in Russia, and a warrant for his arrest was issued in February.

Sonin reacted to his sentence on X by posting a photo of himself wearing a paper bib and happily tucking into a large meal and saying that he had been “prohibited” from using social media for 4.5 years. Asked in the comments when the sentence would come into effect, Sonin replied, “When they catch me”.

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