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A train runs on the Transbaikal Railway Railway in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia, on Aug. 11, 2019. (Illustrative purposes only) (Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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A Russian man has been found guilty of sabotage and treason and jailed for 10 years after allegedly setting fire to a railway relay cabinet in Transbaikal, in far eastern Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on April 23.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, what were previously treated as acts of hooliganism have often been tried as acts of sabotage aimed at disrupting the Kremlin's war effort, and those found guilty now face far harsher punishments.

Some have been accused of working under Ukraine's orders.

The court said the man set fire to the relay cabinet "with the aim of undermining the economic security and defense capability of Russia, thereby providing other assistance to a foreign state or its representatives."

According to the Telegram channel Babr Mash, the man admitted his guilt and said that he carried out the crime on "ideological grounds" in order to assist a "foreign state." The Kyiv Independent could not verify the veracity of the charges, as Russia often uses trumped-up accusations and torture to repress real or imagined opposition.

Acts of sabotage against Russia's railways have been relatively frequent.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) announced in November 2023 that it carried out a joint operation with local partisans to disrupt trains around Moscow by setting fire to two relay boxes.

"Fire, chaos, and paralysis on the Russian railway is another consequence of the Russian criminal war against Ukraine," the agency said.

In January, Ukraine's military intelligence reported that railway tracks in Russia's Saratov, Yaroslavl, and Nizhny Novgorod oblasts were targeted in sabotage attacks.

"Unknown opponents of (Vladimir) Putin's regime once again burned several relay cabinets on the railway," military intelligence said.

The agency did not say whether it was involved in the sabotage attacks but said the actions would disrupt Russian military logistics.

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