Ukrainian court sentences 2 Russians to 14 years in prison on terrorism charges

Russian nationals Yevgeny Erofeev and Aleksandr Aleksandrov at the Goloseyevsky District Court in Kiev. © Stringer
Two Russian citizens, who were detained in Ukraine last year, have been sentenced to 14 years in prison after a district court in Kiev found them guilty of terrorist activities.

Evgeny Erofeev and Aleksandr Aleksandrov will remain in custody until the sentence comes into force in ten days, the court ruled on Monday.

The defendants were indicted on six articles of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, including “participation in a terrorist act or a terrorist organization,” “waging an aggressive war” and “actions that led to the death of a person.”

The prosecution demanded the Russians to be sentenced to the maximum term of 15 years behind bars.

In the Ukrainian judicial system, the sentence for multiple crimes isn’t cumulative, with the convict serving his term in accordance with the most serious article.

Both Russians denied their guilt of crimes attributed to them, the court said in its sentencing.

Erofeev and Aleksandrov, who are claimed to be Russian military servicemen by Kiev, were detained by the Ukrainian security forces near the village of Schastie in south-eastern Lugansk Region on May 16, 2015.

The duo was allegedly fighting for the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic.

Erofeev was injured in the arm, while Aleksandrov received a wound to his leg prior to the arrest.

The same gunfight saw one Ukrainian soldier killed and three others wounded.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that Erofeev and Aleksandrov were Russian citizens, but stressed they weren’t members of the country’s military at the time of the arrest.

Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of the Russian Parliament’s Committee for Civil and Criminal Law, blasted the sentence, saying that “it had nothing to do with compliance to legal procedures, the norms of international law and objectivity.”

Yury Grabovsky, the lawyer for one the defendants, was kidnapped on March 6 and found dead in small town some 100 kilometers from Kiev several weeks later.

The investigators believe that the abductors used an ankle bracelet rigged with explosives to prevent the attorney from escaping before murdering him.

READ MORE: Murdered: Lawyer for Russian fighter kidnapped, 'drugged, wired to a bomb' in Ukraine

In addition, a fire broke out in the office of the case’s presiding judge, Nikolai Didyk, on April 8.

Lawyers for Nadezhda Savchenko, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia in March, said that they were going to discuss a possible exchange of their client for Erofeev and Aleksandrov in spite of the fact that the Ukrainian pilot says she is against it.

READ MORE: Ukrainian pilot Savchenko gets 22 years in Russian prison, sings through reading of final verdict

The woman was found guilty of murdering two Russian journalists near Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine in June of 2014, as well as illegally crossing the Russian border.