A Ukrainian journalist, sentenced in Russia to 12 years of imprisonment for espionage

Ⓒ AFP – Vasily Maximov – | Roman Sushchenko gestures behind a window on Monday, June 4 in a Moscow court

On Monday, Russian justice condemned 12-year imprisonment in a camp to Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, who was arrested in October 2016 and convicted of espionage, said an AFP journalist.

“Of course, I will present an appeal, this decision is not fair,” said Sushchenko, 49, after the announcement of her conviction.

The prosecution had required 14 years of imprisonment against Sushchenko, accused of being a colonel of the Ukrainian intelligence services. The Ukrainian government maintains, however, that the condemned is a journalist.

Roman Sushchenko, arrested in 2016, was accused of “gathering confidential information about activities of the Russian Armed Forces and the National Guard”, based on the evidence gathered by the Russian security services (FSB).

Ukraine, for its part, says that Sushchenko is a journalist, correspondent in Paris of the Ukrinform press agency, for which he has been working since 2002.

“It’s a politically motivated case, we demand her release,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa reacted on Twitter.

Sushchenko’s lawyer, Mark Feiguin, described the trial as “political”, and estimated that the only possibility now is an exchange against journalist Kyrylo Vyshynski, arrested in Ukraine.

Vyshynski, Russian-Ukrainian journalist, head of the office of the Russian public press agency Ria Novosti in Kiev, was arrested in May and will appear before a Ukrainian court for “high treason”.

This decision also takes place after the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, jailed in Russia for “terrorism”, declared a hunger strike to demand the release of all Ukrainian “political prisoners” in Russia.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced on Facebook “an unprecedented cynicism” of Russian justice, which “proves that the Kremlin regime will stop at nothing in its attempt to break the Ukrainian spirit.”

The tension between Moscow and Kiev, since the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, has led to a multiplicity of arrests of Ukrainians accused of espionage in Russia.

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