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Court in far eastern Russian city sentences student to prison for 'passing troop locations to Kyiv' online

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 11, 2024 9:23 PM 2 min read
The main square of the far eastern Russian city of Birobidzhan, the administrative center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, on March 11, 2011. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Anna Yeroshenko/AFP via Getty Images)
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A court in the far eastern Russian city of Birobidzhan sentenced a student to five years in prison on July 11 for allegedly passing the locations of Russian troops in Ukraine to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

The student collected information "using the internet" about the locations of Russian troops fighting in Ukraine in exchange for payment from the SBU, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) told the state-run media outlet RIA Novosti.

It is unclear what information the student would have been able to collect online from his residency in Birobidzhan, located some 8,000 kilometers (4,970) from the Ukrainian border.

The student reportedly confessed to sharing information and was convicted of treason but sentenced to only five years due to his cooperation with authorities, RIA Novosti said.

Treason can carry a life sentence.

The Kyiv Independent cannot verify this information, and the Russian judicial system is widely thought to be systematically unfair. Torture and forced confessions are also commonplace practices among law enforcement officers, human rights organizations have found.

Birobidzhan, situated just north of the Chinese border, was formed as the capital of the newly created Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the 1930s during Soviet times. While still retaining the name, the vast majority of the Jewish population, which peaked at 25% of the oblast in the 1940s, has since left.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on dissent since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has seen thousands of his citizens arrested and many jailed.

In 2023, at least 21,000 people were targeted by Russia's "repressive laws" used to "crack down" on anti-war activists," according to Amnesty International.

Ukrainian sentenced to 12 years in Russia over peaceful protest
Krystyna Liubashenko, the 35-year-old mother of two, was sentenced under the charges of “spreading disinformation about the war” and “taking part in a terrorist organization,” the Russian independent media outlet wrote.
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