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Russian repression continues despite Covid-19, with new ’Ukrainian saboteur’ arrests in occupied Crimea

16.04.2020
Halya Coynash

A raging pandemic is no obstacle for Russia’s FSB which has made new arrests in occupied Crimea with this ‘Ukrainian saboteur / spy’ storyline ominously similar to those used in previous politically-motivated prosecutions and their coverage in the Russian state-controlled media

In a report, posted on 15 April, the FSB claimed to have “broken up activities of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Military Intelligence Department aimed at organizing and carrying out acts of sabotage – terrorism, stealing information containing state secrets and recruiting Russian citizens”.  These alleged ‘activities’ were purportedly organized by Lieutenant Oleh Alisherovych Akhmedov, the head of a department of military intelligence located in Kherson.   The group of 'agents', whom Akhmedov is supposed to have been in charge of, included a Russian military servicewoman and a male Ukrainian citizen.  No names or details are given, however the journalist initiative Grati has learned something of the case after speaking with the lawyer of the detained woman and some other unnamed sources.

The woman is understood to be living in Feodosia with a small child.  She was arrested on 24 March and charged with ‘state treason’ (Article 275 of Russia’s criminal code).  It seems she ‘admitted guilt’, saying that a Ukrainian citizen, her former husband, had recruited her several years after they parted and that she had passed him documents of the military unit in which she worked.  Due to her underage child, she was placed under house arrest.

The ‘Ukrainian citizen’, who is presumably the woman’s ex-husband and probably the main target in this case, was taken immediately to Moscow where he is being held in the FSB-linked Lefortovo SIZO [remand prison].  He is charged with ‘spying’  (article 276), with this meaning that his ‘trial’ will almost certainly be held behind closed doors.  This is especially worrying since this case appears to be based on ‘confessions’ of two people who were under the total control of the FSB. 

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