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Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) reported on May 16 that Kostyantyn Bezsmertny, a commander at the 501st Marine Battalion, had been charged with treason for allegedly persuading 277 soldiers to surrender to Russian troops as prisoners of war.
The bureau said it had closed desertion cases against the 277 soldiers.
The marines of the 501st Battalion were defending Mariupol during the siege of the city by Russian troops in 2022.
In April 2022, Russian propaganda outlets said that the marines had surrendered once Mariupol was surrounded.
The SBI's investigation established that Bezsmertny, the chief of the logistics service of the 501st Battalion, "betrayed his oath and went over to the side of the enemy," persuading the commander to surrender operations, weapons, and personnel.
As a result, 277 soldiers of the 501st Marine Battalion were taken into captivity by Russian troops.
Afterwards, the suspect returned to his native Berdyansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which is under Russian occupation.
According to the SBI, he continued attempting to sway Ukrainian soldiers to "switch sides to the enemy" and provided information about the deployment of Ukrainian forces and defense capabilities "in exchange for rewards."