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Memorial: Ukrainian accused of espionage dies in Russian custody

by Alexander Khrebet February 11, 2024 11:26 PM 1 min read
Barbed wire is seen on top of the wall of Moscow's Lefortovo prison on Apr. 4, 2023. The prison is known for being the place where political prisoners await their trial. Serhii Karmazin, a Ukrainian civilian arrested on sabotage charges, and Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested on espionage charges, are among the detainees of Lefortovo. (Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Viktor Demchenko, a 71-year-old Ukrainian whom Russia accused of espionage and participation in a terrorist organization, has allegedly died in pretrial detention in Russia’s Rostov region, the Memorial human rights group reported on Feb. 11.

Russia accused several Ukrainians of espionage following the start of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Memorial didn't specify the date when Demchenko died.

Meanwhile, Russian state news agency TASS, citing law enforcement agencies, reported that Demchenko died in a Rostov prison hospital from a stroke on Dec. 31.

Several hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were arrested in Russia on espionage or sabotage charges. Many of them are sent to detention centers and are deprived of access to lawyers.

The fate of many Ukrainian “civilian hostages” remains unknown.

Ukraine’s Reintegration Ministry said there are 763 civilian hostages in Russia and Russian-occupied areas, while the country’s Ombudsman’s Office put the number at 20,000.

‘I’m afraid we’ll never find them:’ Russia holds thousands of Ukrainian civilians hostage
In the early days of the full-scale invasion as Russian troops were occupying large swaths of territory outside of Kyiv, one local village resident was relieved to see what he thought were Ukrainian troops. The resident, Ivan Drozd, shouted the common Ukrainian salute “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Uk…
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