Russian sentenced to 3 years in prison for making fun of boy who wore “Z” hat
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Russian sentenced to 3 years in prison for making fun of boy who wore “Z” hat

Russian sentenced to 3 years in prison for making fun of boy who wore “Z” hat

Those who speak out against Moscow’s military action in Ukraine risk heavy sanctions

Moscow:

A Russian court on Monday sentenced a man to three years in prison for mocking a boy wearing a hat with the pro-military “Z” symbol.

The man, Alexander Neustroyev, was filmed last year shouting: “Put that hat up your ass, you idiot!” on an 11-year-old boy passing by, security camera footage published in Russian media showed.

The letter “Z”, which was painted on Russian tanks sent to Ukraine in February 2022, has become a high-profile symbol of support for the Russian military campaign, affixed to billboards, buildings and vehicles across the country.

The verdict is the latest one-year prison sentence handed down by a Russian court for publicly criticizing President Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Ukraine, which Moscow officially describes as a “special military operation.”

A district court in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg sentenced Neustroyev to three years in criminal prison – a low-security form of prison – for the incident, for which he was formally charged with “hooliganism” with threatened violence, prosecutors say. said.

The boy had come home in tears, his mother told local media, which published a photo of him wearing a black beanie with a large white “Z” on the front.

His mother said he wanted to wear the logo because he was proud of his father, who served in the Russian National Guard in Ukraine.

Neustroyev, a builder, was arrested shortly after by armed riot police who stormed his house wearing bulletproof vests and helmets.

Questioned by video at the police station, he said he was “deeply repentant”.

A court initially fined him 7,000 rubles ($79) and dismissed the case, but senior politicians and prosecutors appealed, saying the punishment was too light, leading to a new trial.

Those who speak out against Moscow’s military action in Ukraine risk heavy sanctions.

A 68-year-old Moscow pediatrician is on trial and faces up to ten years in prison for allegedly telling a patient’s mother that her ex-husband, a soldier killed in Ukraine, was a legitimate target for kyiv.

Last week, a blogger who livestreamed reports of alleged Russian atrocities in the kyiv suburb of Bucha was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)