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Russian-controlled Luhansk militants claim young hostage ‘spied’ for Ukraine as a 16-year-old

Halya Coynash

Militants from the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ have seized a 21-year-old man from Luhansk and accused him of passing ‘state secrets’ to Ukraine’s SBU [Security Service].  He is claimed to have been ‘recruited’ by the SBU, aged just 16.  

As usual, the so-called ‘LPR ministry of state security’ have forced the young Ukrainian to ‘confess’ in front of a camera.  We know from former hostages that Lilipa is likely to have been physically tortured, and he certainly seems hesitant, as though frightened of saying the wrong thing.  

None of these videoed ‘confessions’, nor those of the Russian FSB which the militants imitate, are ever convincing, but this one seems particularly absurd.  The SBU are supposed to have recruited the then 16-year-old Lilipa when he was crossing the checkpoint at Stanitsya Luhanska in 2015. 

The SBU are presumably supposed to have not known that Lilipa’s age would have made any signed agreement on cooperation quite meaningless.  The young man says on the video that he was persuaded to sign such a document and given the code name ‘Slava’, on the promise that he would be given a job in the SBU when he turned of age and that his relatives would be able to cross the checkpoints without obstruction.  Back in 2015, he is supposed to have been instructed to gather information about so-called ‘military servicemen’ and armed units, and then passed this on via social media and Twitter.  This year, it is claimed, his SBU handlers instructed him to infiltrate the so-called ‘LPR armed forces’, collect and pass on “information containing state secrets”. He was purportedly seized while trying to hand the SBU information about the numbers in such armed units.  That slightly clashes with another claim, doubtless demanded of him, namely that he was threatened with problems by the SBU when he stopped giving them information.  It is also possible that the whole point of this story was for propaganda about the depraved SBU who supposedly recruit teenagers.

No independent information is available about the young man, except that there is a Vladislav Lilipu whose Facebook page is either empty or only for personal contacts.  This asserts that the person studied at ‘the ‘Luhansk internal affairs academy named after E.A. Didorenko, whose graduates appear to swear allegiance to the so-called ‘Luhansk republic’.

The ‘LPR ministry’ speaks of “collaboration with foreign security services” and says that this is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.  Although this ‘republic’, set up, financed and controlled by Russia, has not even been recognized by Moscow, it appears to be accusing Lilipa of ‘state treason’ and ‘spying (articles 335 and 336, respectively, of the so-called criminal code).

Over 200 civilian hostages or POWs are known to be held by the ‘Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics’, although the real figure may well be higher.  The following are just some of the hostages almost certainly seized for their pro-Ukrainian position.

Valery Matyushenko 

Oleg Shevandin

Olena Fedoruk 

Olena Pyekh 

Marina Yurchak 

Yuri Shapovalov

Bohdan Maksymenko

Bohdan Kovalchuk

Hryhory Sinchenko

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