Russian art teacher given 20 years in jail for transferring money to Ukraine

Daniil Klyuka. Photo:  First Department

Daniil Klyuka. Photo: First Department

A court in Russia’s central Lipetsk region has sentenced an art teacher to 20 years in prison after finding him guilty of treason and facilitating terrorist activities over a cryptocurrency transfer he made to Ukraine, the court website announced on Wednesday.

The case against 26-year-old Daniil Klyuka was based on a transfer of €220, which investigators claimed he made to the Azov Brigade, a formation of the Ukrainian National Guard, though which Klyuka said was to his brother in the occupied city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Klyuka said that the FSB officers handling his case, who accused him of having “anti-Russian” views, repeatedly demanded he confess that the money had been intended for the Azov Brigade.

Klyuka said that his colleagues had reported him to the authorities for drawing pictures on a local propaganda newspaper to which the school he worked at was subscribed.

“I thought I’d just be sacked, but they called the FSB, gave them the newspaper and said I was interested in explosives. I was followed for a week and a half,” Klyuka said.

When he was subsequently called in to see the headmaster, Klyuka said that masked men had suddenly appeared. “I was face down in the snow, with a bag over my head, and then taken to a basement somewhere,” he wrote in a letter from pretrial detention.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian authorities have enjoyed a free hand to crack down with astonishing severity on even the slightest sign of dissent. Laws on sabotage, terrorism and extremism have been widened and their penalties increased. The maximum punishment for both sabotage and treason has been raised to life imprisonment in the past two years.

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