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A pro-Putin Chilean-American filmmaker who was imprisoned in Ukraine over allegations of spreading Russian propaganda has died in jail.
Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber and film director who was born in Burbank, California, and spent part of his childhood in the Los Angeles area, died in a Ukrainian jail on Friday, the State Department confirmed to Fox News Digital.
“We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Gonzalo Lira in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss.”
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The spokesperson added that the department stands “ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” but would have no further comment “out of respect from the family during this difficult time.”
Lira gained a following posting pro-Russian content that justified Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report from Newsweek, a criminal offense under Ukrainian law. He was initially jailed in May 2023 but was released on bail. He was jailed again after posting a video hinting that he was going to leave the country, being arrested again for allegedly breaching the conditions of his bail.
American-Chilean filmmaker Gonzalo Lira died in Ukraine. Lira had been in a Ukrainian jail on charges of spreading Ukrainian propaganda. (X/@GonzaloLira1968)
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Newsweek also reported that Lira made many controversial posts before being picked up by Ukrainian authorities, including labeling Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelenskyy a “cokehead” and praising Putin’s “special military operation” as “one of the most brilliant invasions in military history.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and President of Moldova Maia Sandu in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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The Ukrainian government’s Center for Stategic Communication and Information Security said Lira was arrested for “justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine,” according to Newsweek, a violation of Article 463-2 of Ukrainian criminal law.