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Russian court orders Arestovych's arrest in absentia

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 6, 2024 11:28 AM 2 min read
Former presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych at a forum in Kyiv on Dec. 11, 2020. (Evgen Kotenko/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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The Basmanny District Court of Moscow ordered a two-month arrest in absentia of Oleksiy Arestovych, a controversial Ukrainian blogger and a former advisor at Ukraine's Presidential Office, the court's press service reported on Feb. 6.

Russia charged Arestovych with what it calls "public calls for terrorism" and "spreading false information" about the Russian military. Russian authorities placed Arestovych on the wanted list in October 2023.

Arestovych left Ukraine at the beginning of September 2023 and has not returned since. He has reportedly settled in New York.

The Ukrainian investigative outlet NGL Media reported on Feb. 1 that Arestovych left Ukraine using a letter from the Ukrainian military intelligence agency (HUR) to leave the country during martial law.

The agency denied providing Arestovych with the permission.

Under martial law, Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 need special permission to leave the country.

Arestovych resigned from the President's Office in January 2023 after falsely claiming that Ukrainian air defense had hit a Russian missile before it destroyed an apartment building in Dnipro on Jan. 14, 2023, killing at least 46 people.

National Police opened an investigation into Arestovych in November 2023 under Article 383 of the Criminal Code, which covers the intentional misreport of a criminal offense.

A popular voice in the early days of the full-scale invasion, Arestovych's accessibility and calm demeanor gained him a substantial following and greatly raised his profile in the media, where he was frequently cited. However, many of his claims would prove false or misleading.

He also made multiple controversial statements about Ukrainian culture, the LGBT community, Ukrainian servicewomen, and other topics before and after the invasion, quickly damaging his reputation among the Ukrainian public.

He has remained vocal since his departure and has floated the idea that he might run for president, among other criticisms of President Volodymyr Zelensky and the current Ukrainian government.

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