(Moscow) A Russian appeals court on Wednesday upheld an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence imposed on opponent Ilia Yachin for his criticism of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, amid worsening repression in Russia.

The conviction handed down at first instance in December “remains unchanged”, the judge said, according to an AFP correspondent in court. Mr Yashin, 39, was found guilty of spreading “false information” about the Russian military.

“The feeling of having moral superiority over the thieves and killers who have taken over gives me strength. They know I don’t fear them,” Mr. Iachine said during the hearing, according to a transcript posted by his team on Telegram.

A charismatic opponent, he had been convicted for having denounced, in a live intervention on YouTube, “the murder of civilians” in the Ukrainian city of Boutcha, near Kyiv, where the Russian army has been accused of abuses, which denies Moscow.

His trial had been particularly watched in Russia, as he was one of the last prominent Russian opponents not to have fled his country or not been imprisoned.

Because in parallel with the intervention in Ukraine, the Kremlin has accelerated the repression inside Russia, pursuing those who challenge its military operation.

On Monday, Vladimir Kara-Murza, another figure of the Russian opposition who remained in Russia, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term, in particular for “high treason”, unheard of in recent Russian history since the repressions Soviets.