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20 Aug, 2020 14:08

FSB arrests 7 mafia-linked Russians it says were paid by Ukraine to kidnap leader of East Ukrainian rebel militia

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained seven Russian citizens suspected of attempting to kidnap one of the leaders of the Donbass militia in Eastern Ukraine. The agency says they were promised a cash reward by Kiev.

According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, in July the group, acting on behalf of Ukraine's successor to the KGB (the SBU), posed as interested buyers of real estate. They lured an unnamed victim to Moscow’s suburbs, where he was given an electric shock. The seven involved in the plot planned to take the man, a Russian citizen, to Ukraine, but he resisted and fled.

Russian authorities believe that Ukrainians Andrey Baidala and Igor Mishchenko, who work with the SBU, had offered $200,000 to members of the Russian criminal underworld to kidnap the militia leader. They were allegedly paid an advance of $50,000.

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“The FSB uncovered and suppressed an illegal action by the special services of Ukraine,” a statement from the agency’s press service said, explaining that the victim “took an active part in hostilities against the Armed Forces of Ukraine (during the civil war).”

According to the FSB, Baidala is a freelance employee of the SBU, and is well connected within Ukraine’s intelligence community. In the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), he is implicated in several criminal cases, including terrorist attacks and the murder of the former head of DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko.

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The war in Donbass began in April 2014, and the rebel forces currently control large swathes of Ukrainian land. The area is now split into two unrecognized states, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, supported by Moscow.

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