By Halya Coynash. for Human Rights in Ukraine
A so-called military court in the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ [LPR] has sentenced two Ukrainians to huge sentences for what it calls ‘state treason’. Since the alleged ‘treason’ involved spreading ‘negative information’ on the Internet, it seems likely that one of the two people is Edward Nedelyaev, a prominent Luhansk blogger, seized in November 2016. The 14- and 12-year sentences come a week after the militants reported a 20-year sentence, also on highly suspect charges.
The LPR website does not name the two people, referring to the man sentenced to 14 years only as N, while the woman is called ‘V’.
The grounds for the sentence on July 28, 2017 against ‘N’ are set out as follows:
“Citizen N, using social media and messengers, circulated negative information about LPR residents, denigrating citizens’ honour and dignity on the Internet, and tried to stir up hatred and enmity to the Russian nation.
He also passed representatives of foreign intelligence information able to harm our state in order to undermine the foundations of our national security”.
The woman was sentenced to 12 years “for state treason by passing representatives of foreign intelligence information of a military nature”.
There was no information earlier and is next to none now, The report states that the people have ten days in which to appeal, but gives no indication of whether they had proper lawyers. There is nothing, however, to suggest that the two pleaded guilty.
Luhansk blogger, Edward Nedelyaev was ‘arrested’ in November, with the claim being that he had circulated ‘extremist material’. Writing under the name Edward Ned and @Edward_Luhansk, Nedelyaev did not conceal his attitude to the militants, to life in ‘LNR’ and Russia’s part in the conflict.
Like Vlad Ovcharenko, one of the football fans whom the militants seized early in October 2016, Nedelyaev had spoken openly to German Bild journalist Julian Röpcke that summer about “Life in Putin’s republics”.
This was enough for both men, and others, to find themselves accused of ‘state treason’ and ‘spying’.
The official militant information agency reported on Nov 29 that men from the so-called ‘LPR ministry of state security’ had detained the blogger whom they claim to be linked with the Ukrainian Aidar Battalion.
The Russian-backed ‘republics’ are increasingly using Russia’s FSB techniques, such as video footage about supposed ‘finds’ that cannot be verified and ‘confessions’ from men who are totally under their control.
On November 29, they produced a video showing Nedelyaev being pinned down and ‘arrested’, and then taken to two premises, where the militants’ camera focuses on dollars found, on equipment that could perhaps be used for passing on information, and on a map of Ukrainian roads. No explanation was given as to why a map should be incriminating, but it was claimed that the ‘investigators’ had established that Nedelyaev had firm links with officers of the Ukrainian Security Service and the nationalist battalion Aidar, and that the money was “intended for carrying out destructive work in LPR”.
By the following day, they had produced a video on which Nedelyaev ‘confessed’ to spying and said he “had planned to become a partisan and help in returning Luhansk to Ukrainian jurisdiction”. He also spoke of being connected to the Ukrainian Aidar Battalion, and said that there had been people who read his blog who called themselves employees of Ukraine’s SBU [Security Service] and Armed Services. “I told them the position of military objects on LPR territory with the coordinates. I posted photographs and videos that I took of these objects”.
The militants said that he was charged with ‘state treason’, and that criminal proceedings have been initiated under articles 335 ‘spying’ and 343 ‘inciting hatred or enmity’.
There is a chance that this is 52-year-old Valentina Buchok who was seized in March 2017 in the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic’. She was accused of ‘spying’ for the SBU by, for example, a ’reconnaissance visit’ to the apartment where war criminal Motorola lived a month or more after he was killed (see: Donbas militants seize Ukrainian woman & accuse her of bizarrely useless ‘spying’ ).
There is virtually no information about Serhiy Mironych, whom the so-called ‘LPR military court’ sentenced to 20 years for a supposed plan to blow up an oil refinement base in Luhansk.
There are extremely serious grounds for doubting all such ‘charges’ and for concern and about other Ukrainians, like Vlad Ovcharenko and Artem Akhmerov about whom nothing has been heard for many months.
By Halya Coynash. for Human Rights in Ukraine