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Russian court jails Ukrainian for 11 years for espionage


gavelA Russian court on Tuesday sentenced a Ukrainian man to 11 years in prison on espionage charges, after he was accused of buying “state secrets” concerning Russia’s aerospace industry.

The verdict against Valentyn Vygovskiy, described in the media as a 32-year-old businessman, was swiftly condemned by Kiev, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maryana Betsa calling it “illegal”.

Vygovskiy was charged with the “collection, storage and delivery to a foreign state of information containing commercial and state secrets,” Moscow regional court spokeswoman Natalia Osipova told AFP.

Since September 2012, he had “solicited workers in Russia’s aerospace industry to collect information in exchange for a financial reward”, Osipova said.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said Vygovskiy was detained by Russian authorities in September 2014 in the Crimean city of Simferopol — about six months after the peninsula was annexed by Moscow.

His case was launched by the Federal Security Service (FSB) which normally handles charges of high treason and espionage, and he has been held in the notorious Lefortovo jail in Moscow.

Despite repeated demands to provide the Ukrainian consul in Moscow with access to Vygovskiy, “there has been no response” from the Russian security service, the ministry said.

In October, another Ukrainian, an elderly former director of a now defunct missile parts factory, was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage.

Russia has prosecuted an increasing number of Russians and foreigners for treason and espionage since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in 2014 and the ensuing standoff with the West.

Earlier this year Moscow arrested a mother of seven for telling the Ukrainian embassy about Russian troop movements. Svetlana Davydova was released following an outcry from supporters and rights activists.

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