EU state jails citizen for supporting Russia

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Activist Elena Kreile has been sentenced to three years in prison by a Latvian court for displaying pro-Russian flags in her windows

The Riga City Court in Latvia has sentenced pro-Russian activist Elena Kreile to three years in prison on charges of publicly displaying support for Moscow and its military operation in Ukraine. 

Prosecutors had originally requested that Kreile receive three and a half years behind bars, according to court documents cited by the Jauns news outlet. The woman was officially charged under the Latvian Criminal Code’s article on public justification of genocide, crimes against humanity and peace, and war crimes.  

Kreile was arrested in March for wearing a Soviet-style leather trench coat and a red flower in her beret. She initially received a fine for wearing clothes that were “an instrument of administrative violation,” but the prosecution later also charged her with supporting genocide for displaying pro-Russian symbols the windows of her house last year. 

Specifically, prosecutors took issue with Kreile putting up Russian flags and ribbons, some of which featured inscriptions reading “God save Latvia” and “Putin is my friend.” She also reportedly displayed several other installations, including a pile of bricks in the colors of the Russian flag that was wrapped with a ribbon resembling the Latvian flag which featured a message reading “the foundation of the unbreakable friendship between Latvia and Russia.” 

Kreile has maintained her innocence and has appealed the court’s verdict. The next hearing is scheduled for September 11, according to Jauns. 

Last year, the activist was also fined and received a suspended prison sentence under the same charges after she displayed a Russian and a Latvian flag in her windows and had repeatedly appeared in public wearing clothing and accessories that expressed support for Russia, particularly a handbag with the letter ‘Z’ printed on it – a symbol often associated with Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

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