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Russian court sentences Ukrainian ex-soldier to 12 years on 'terrorism' charges

by Nate Ostiller November 30, 2023 10:51 AM 2 min read
A Russian penal colony outside of the town of Dmitrov in Moscow Oblast on Jan. 30, 2020. (Photo for illustrative purposes) (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)
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A military court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced a Ukrainian citizen to 12 years in prison on charges that he had planned a terrorist attack in the then-Russian occupied city of Kherson on May 9, or Victory Day, in 2022, Russian state-run media TASS reported on Nov. 30.

The convicted, Pavlo Zaporozhets, allegedly "admitted guilt, saying that he served in the Ukrainian military," TASS said. It is unclear if the supposed admission of guilt referred to him serving with the Ukrainian military or the alleged planned "terrorist attack."

RFE/RL and other media outlets previously reported that Zaporozhets served in the Ukrainian army several years before but left in 2017 and was not an active member during the full-scale invasion. He was detained during the Russian occupation of Kherson,  subsequently tortured, and then deported to illegally annexed Crimea, his lawyers said.

During court hearings, Zaporozhets said that he should be treated as a prisoner of war and thus subject to the Geneva Convention and added that he would appeal the sentence, TASS claimed.

There is no way to independently verify this information. Russia does not provide transparent access to its legal system, and international human rights organizations have long detailed rampant abuse in prisons, as well as the use of torture to coerce confessions.

In addition, Russia has widely used the charge of supporting or planning "terrorism" as a means of suppressing any perceived dissent against the regime.

At least 42 captured Ukrainian soldiers face trial in Russia, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

During a trial in August, a Russian-controlled court in occupied Donetsk Oblast sentenced two Mariupol defenders from the Azovstal Batallion to 24 years in prison. A Territorial Defense trooper was sentenced to 21 years for the alleged killing of a civilian.

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