Former Russian Police Officer Gets Seven Years In Prison After Commenting On Ukraine War In Private Phone Calls


A court in Moscow has sentenced former police officer Sergei Vedel (aka Klokov) to seven years in prison on a charge of distributing "false information" about Russia's armed forces involved in Moscow's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine launched in February last year.

Vedel, sentenced on April 24, was the first Russian citizen to face the charge last year, right after Russia adopted a law criminalizing any expression of opinion about the war in Ukraine that differs from official statements by Moscow. The law has been used by authorities to stifle even minor expressions of dissent.

Vedel's lawyer, Daniil Berman, has insisted the charge is illegal as it came about from recordings of private telephone conversations he had with friends and colleagues and therefore cannot be defined as distributing information.

Investigators say that the Ukraine-born Vedel in his three telephone talks with his friends and colleagues stressed that losses of Russian military personnel in Ukraine were much higher than official statistics showed. He also said that Russia's military is killing civilians and that Ukraine's government is not Nazi, as Russian officials and propaganda have said in justifying the war.

Vedel, who was born and raised in the town of Irpin near Kyiv, was arrested on March 18, 2022, after his telephone conversation with a Ukrainian police officer in Kyiv, who is his 67-year-old father's friend, was wiretapped.

During the conversation, Vedel asked the police officer in Kyiv to get information about his friends and their families residing in the town of Bucha near Kyiv.

Vedel admitted to making the statements and offered apologies to the court.

Russian troops were forced to leave Irpin and Bucha in late March after they failed to capture the Ukrainian capital, leaving behind hundreds of bodies of murdered civilians on the streets of the two towns.

Kyiv, rights groups, and the United Nations have called Russian military's actions in Bucha, Irpin, and some other towns war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in its attacks on Ukrainian targets and has repeatedly denied its forces have committed any war crimes, even with mounting evidence that it has targeted hospitals, residential areas, cultural centers, and other nonmilitary installations.