Maria Ponomarenko, a Russian journalist, was imprisoned for drawing attention to the killings in Mariupol

Before being given a punishment, Maria Ponomarenko spoke before the judge

For writing on social media about a deadly attack by Russian warplanes on a theater in Ukraine, Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko was sentenced to six years in prison.

She was found guilty of spreading "fake news" by a Siberian court in Barnaul as a result of new laws intended to silence opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

Additionally, she was prohibited from working as a journalist for five years.

When the Mariupol theater was bombed in March of last year, hundreds of civilians perished.

Weeks after the bombing, in April of last year, Ponomarenko was detained for posting that the attack had been carried out by Russian warplanes despite the Russian defense ministry's denial.

She is one of many Russian dissidents who are being imprisoned for opposing the conflict in Ukraine.

When Russian fighter jets bombed the theater, 1,200 civilians were inside looking for refuge. According to an Associated Press investigation, more than 600 people were actually killed, contrary to what Ukrainian authorities who estimate 300 deaths. The basement contained many of the bodies.

Russian forces committed a war crime, according to Amnesty International, and the international watchdog OSCE said it had no evidence to support Russian claims that a Ukrainian battalion had blown it up.

Within days of the invasion, according to the prosecution, Maria Ponomarenko spread "knowingly false information" about the Russian armed forces.

A view shows the building of a destroyed theatre in Mariupol
In an effort to halt Russian airstrikes, locals had written the Russian word for "children" outside the theater.

Before receiving her punishment, she told the court that she had done nothing wrong in violation of Russian law: "Had I committed a real crime, then it would be possible to ask for leniency, but once again, due to my moral and ethical qualities, I would not do this. ".

She identified herself as a patriotic opposition pacifist and added that being a patriot meant loving one's country. She also said that military censorship should not be in place when the so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine was not referred to as a war.

According to her lawyer, the journalist and activist, who is a mother of two young children, has experienced mental health issues while incarcerated. Last year, she compared the conditions of her pre-trial detention to torture.

Alexei Gorinov, a councilman from Moscow, was sentenced to seven years in prison last summer after being caught on camera speaking out against Russia's war in Ukraine. A UN working group demanded his release earlier this week after finding that his detention was arbitrary and in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ilya Yashin, one of the most well-known opposition figures in Russia, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in December for disseminating "fake news" about the military after he took to YouTube to denounce the murder of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians by Russian occupiers in Bucha, close to Kiev.

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