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Leonid Pasechnik, the Moscow-appointed head of occupied part of Luhansk Oblast. (Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
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Leonid Pasechnik, the Russia-installed head of the occupied territories in Luhansk Oblast, was found guilty of undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity and collaborationism, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reported on July 2.

He was sentenced in absentia to 12 years in prison with confiscation of property and banned from holding public office in Ukraine for 13 years.

According to the SBU, Pasechnik signed an agreement between the occupied Luhansk Oblast and Moscow shortly before the onset of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. "Such decisions" were used as a "formal pretext" by Russian President Vladimir Putin who ordered the invasion, the SBU said.

Pasechnik also organized a sham referendum on "joining the Russian Federation" that was held in the occupied parts of Luhansk Oblast in September 2023.

Following the sham referendums in the occupied parts of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts, Putin claimed that Russia was annexing these Ukrainian regions in an attempt to solidify Russia's territorial gains in the full-scale invasion.

Russia partially occupies the four oblasts and controls the regional centers in just two of them. Donetsk and Luhansk have been occupied since Russia's initial invasion of the Donbas in 2014.

Pasechnik also organized illegal elections in the occupied region, which were held at gunpoint, the SBU said.

Luhansk-born Pasechnik, 54, was the SBU colonel before he backed Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014. He became the top Russian proxy in the occupied parts of Luhansk Oblast in 2018 replacing other collaborator, Igor Plotnitskyi.

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