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Former PM and current Kyiv official charged with spreading Russian propaganda

by Martin Fornusek and Elsa Court October 12, 2023 8:58 PM 2 min read
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov holds a press conference in Moscow, Russia on April 26, 2018. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

New charges have been brought against former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov for spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda and justifying Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the Security Service (SBU) announced on Oct. 12.

Azarov served as prime minister from 2010 until 2014 during the tenure of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and now resides in Russia. He regularly makes anti-Ukrainian statements on state propaganda channels.

"Hiding from justice outside of Ukraine, (Azarov) actively cooperates with Russian special services and carries out subversive activities against our state at their instructions," the SBU said.

"For this purpose, he spreads pro-Kremlin narratives in comments for Russian propagandists, including on (Vladimir) Solovyov's and (Olga) Skabeyeva's talk shows" on state television, the SBU added.

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The investigation also uncovered that the texts for Azarov's public speeches were being prepared by his assistant, who works as a civil servant at one of the Kyiv city district's administrations.

The woman communicated with Azarov not only from her own home, but also from her office, and was the administrator for his social media and YouTube channels, evidence suggests.

She coordinated Azarov's communications with another assistant, who moved to Moscow after the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. The two assistants were former colleagues, the SBU reported.

The two assistants have been charged with encouraging the overthrow of constitutional order, violating Ukraine's territorial integrity, and justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Azarov faces the same charges, as well as committing treason under martial law.

While two of the accused currently reside outside of Ukraine, "comprehensive measures are underway to bring all those involved to justice," the SBU said.

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