Denis Pushilin, the head of the Russian illegal occupation administration in Donetsk Oblast, was found guilty of undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity and collaborationism, the Prosecutor General's Office reported on Dec. 27.
He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison with confiscation of property.
It was reportedly proved in court that Pushilin had held a meeting of the so-called council of the Russian occupation government in Donetsk Oblast last September, which approved holding a sham referendum on "joining the Russian Federation."
Following such "referendums" in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin claimed on Sept. 30 last year that Russia was annexing these Ukrainian regions in an attempt to solidify Russia's territorial gains in the full-scale invasion.
Russia only partly occupies the four oblasts and controls the regional centers in just two of them. Donetsk and Luhansk have been occupied since Russia's first invasion of the Donbas in 2014.
"In addition, Pushilin repeatedly emphasized in (Russian)-controlled media the need to annex the occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast to the Russian Federation. He thereby called for the capture of the territory of Ukraine by the Russian Federation," the prosecutors wrote.
Pushilin signed an "agreement" with Putin on declaring the occupied territories of the Ukrainian eastern region "a federal subject" of Russia, the Prosecutor General's Office added.
Makiivka-born Pushilin, 42, became the top Russian proxy in the occupied part of Donetsk Oblast in 2018 following the assassination of the previous Moscow-installed leader, Alexander Zakharchenko.
On Nov. 8, an Odesa court found Volodymyr Saldo, a Ukrainian politician turned top Russian proxy in the occupied part of Kherson Oblast, guilty of treason, collaborationism, and justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine.