The police arrested 31 people for child pornography

18-year-old student in court for criticizing Russian offensive

The trial of an 18-year-old student, the youngest Russian to be charged with spreading “false information” about the Russian army, began Monday in Odintsovo, a western suburb of Moscow.

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Maxime Lypkan, who faces up to 10 years in prison, was arrested last February, shortly after celebrating his 18th birthday, while planning to organize a protest against the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

The hearing took place behind closed doors and without the presence of the defendant, who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Chekhov, near the Russian capital, on Friday at the court’s request.

“The trial will take place behind closed doors because, according to a (forensic) report, he was declared partially irresponsible for his actions,” his lawyer Alan Katchmazov, who was present at the hearing, told AFP.

According to Mr. Katchmazov, his client is accused of spreading “false information about the Russian army” because he published on his Telegram channel and on YouTube information about “a well-known maternity hospital (in Ukraine),” which Maxime said was alleged bombed by Russian soldiers.

“We are very worried about Maxime,” his mother Elena said before the hearing.

According to another of Maxime’s lawyers, Antonina Levotchskaya, the young man was “forcibly shaved” and had “conflicts with his cell neighbors” while in custody.

The defense hopes Maxime will be released due to his undisclosed diagnosis.

Apart from his parents, only one person came to support Maxime in court: Lioudmila Ivanova, a 67-year-old pensioner. She said she regularly came to the trials of anti-offensive activists. “I come here to support the defendants, but also to be supported myself by people who share the same point of view as those who were under the hammer of the Russian justice system,” she said, crying.

The activist against the offensive, Maxime Lypkan, had just completed his school education and wanted to study law at university to become a lawyer.

Before his arrest, he had planned to organize a protest entitled “A Year of Hell” on the second anniversary of the start of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine on February 24, but Moscow authorities banned the gathering. Maxime then filed a lawsuit against the capital’s town hall, but lost the case.

In February 2023, he gave an interview to Radio Free Europe, a media outlet funded by the American Congress, in which he explained why he demonstrated against the Kremlin.

“I was so shocked by the victims among the Ukrainian population in Kharkiv, Bucha and other Ukrainian cities that I decided to actively protest,” he said in that interview, urging his fellow citizens to do the same.

“I understand all the risks, but I am not afraid to organize actions against the war,” affirmed the young man.

At 6 a.m. on February 21, the police showed up at his door and arrested him.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.