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27 Feb, 2022 15:07

Ukraine releases convicts to fight Russia

Convicted acid-attack murderer has been allowed to handpick a squad of fellow inmates
Ukraine releases convicts to fight Russia

Ukraine is releasing inmates and criminal suspects with a military background so they can join the fight against the Russian attack on the country, the national prosecutor general’s office confirmed on Sunday.

Moscow attacked its neighbor on Thursday, arguing it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke off from eastern Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Ukraine condemned the move, claiming it was an act of unprovoked aggression.

A convict's service record, combat experience, and repentance are among the factors considered in each individual case, Andrey Siniuk, an official at the prosecutor general’s office told Western government-funded Hromadske TV on Sunday. “It’s a complicated issue decided at the highest level,” he said.

Siniuk was quoted by Hromadske as saying that Sergey Torbin, a former combat veteran, was one of the inmates released. Torbin previously fought in the conflict with the DPR and LPR. He was jailed for six years and six months in 2018 for his role in the murder of a civil rights activist and anti-corruption campaigner Kateryna Handziuk. The woman was doused with acid in July 2018 on a street outside her home and died in the hospital with severe burns later that year.

Siniuk said Torbin handpicked former inmates for his squad after his early release. He added that another ex-serviceman, Dmitry Balabukha, sentenced to nine years in jail for stabbing a man to death at a bus stop after an argument in 2018, had also been released.

The Ukrainian government is actively arming civilians as Russian forces approach its capital. Media outlets reported renewed fighting in Kiev’s outskirts on Sunday.