BFF-64 Russia seeks 14 years jail for Ukrainian reporter

ZCZC

BFF-64

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-ESPIONAGE-COURT-MEDIA

Russia seeks 14 years jail for Ukrainian reporter

MOSCOW, May 28, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Russian prosecutors have asked a Moscow
court to find a Ukrainian journalist guilty of espionage and jail him for 14
years, his defence lawyer said on Monday.

Journalist Roman Sushchenko — who worked for Ukrainian state news agency
Ukrinform since 2002 — was detained in Russia in 2016 and Russia’s FSB
security agency accused him of serving in Ukrainian military intelligence and
gathering state secrets.

Pro-Western Kiev blasted the allegations against Sushchenko at the time of
his detention, portraying them as the latest aggressive move in the stand-off
over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatist rebels
fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Lawyer Mark Feigin, who is defending Sushchenko, told AFP that “the
prosecution requested 14 years for Sushchenko,” while the maximum sentence
prosecutors could seek is 20 years.

Judges do not have to follow prosecutors’ guidance on sentencing but rarely
impose higher sentences than requested.

Sushchenko’s trial at Moscow City Court has been closed to the public and
press. His sentencing has been announced for June 4.

Sushchenko was working as Ukrinform’s Paris correspondent at the time of
his arrest and the agency said that he was detained while visiting Moscow on
holiday.

He has denied any guilt and said in his final speech in court that he
considers he was framed by the Russian security service, Feigin told Interfax
news agency.

Feigin suggested to AFP that prosecutors had asked for a less than maximum
jail term for Sushchenko to avoid more unwelcome publicity as another
prominent Ukrainian prisoner is currently on hunger strike calling for the
release of Ukrainians he sees as political prisoners.

Ukrainian documentary director Oleg Sentsov, jailed for 20 years in 2015 on
terrorism charges, has gone on hunger strike in his penal colony in far
northern Russia demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in
Russia.

He began to refuse food on May 14, with his protest timed ahead of Russia’s
hosting the World Cup next month.

His lawyer Dmitry Dinze told AFP that Sentsov believes there are 64 other
Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.

Feigin suggested Moscow and Kiev could be planning a prisoner exchange
since a journalist working for Russian state news agency RIA Novosti is now
in detention in Ukraine awaiting trial on treason charges. The journalist,
Kyrylo Vyshynsky, has dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship.

BSS/AFP/MRI/1737 hrs