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Former Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant employee receives 10-year sentence for collaborating with Russia

by Abbey Fenbert June 14, 2024 5:14 AM 2 min read
Reactor 4 at the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. (Energoatom / Telegram)
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A former employee of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was found guilty of collaborating with occupying Russian forces at the facility and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the Zaporizhzhia Regional Prosecutor's Office reported on June 13.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest nuclear power station in Europe, has been under Russian occupation since March 2022.

A pre-trial investigation of the employee was carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine's (SBU) Zaporizhzhia Oblast office, according to prosecutors. In court, the man was found guilty of collaborating with Russian authorities while holding a senior position at the occupied plant.

The man agreed to be appointed the first deputy general director of the ZNPP under Russian occupation, prosecutors said.

In his capacity as a senior he official, he  assisted the occupying regime in illegally classifying the ZNPP as a subject of the Russian Federation and in issuing new licenses for the use of the plant's nuclear energy in Russia's power system.

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The man also helped organize meetings among ZNPP personnel wherein he persuaded colleagues to support Russia's operations at the plant, according to the prosecutor's office.

The ex-employee received a 10-year prison sentence along with the confiscation of property. As part of his sentence, he lost the right to hold positions of authority in state or local governments or in state-owned enterprises for 12 years.

President Volodymyr Zelensky in February 2023 imposed sanctions against 200 individuals, including Yurii Chernichuk, a former deputy chief engineer at the ZNPP. Chernichuk was sanctioned for his collaboration with the Russian occupation.  

Russia's occupation of the ZNPP has led to heightened nuclear safety risks. Monitoring teams from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been based at the facility on rotation since September 2022, but Russian authorities still deny IAEA inspectors full access to the plant.

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