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25 Dec, 2023 11:00

Russian court orders arrest of Ukraine’s spy chief

Kirill Budanov stands accused of masterminding 104 “terrorist attacks” against the country
Russian court orders arrest of Ukraine’s spy chief

A Moscow district court has ordered the arrest on terrorism charges of Kirill Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service (GUR), it was announced on Monday.

Budanov was charged with 104 separate crimes of terrorism, the Basmanny court said in a statement. The order was issued in absentia, but should Budanov be extradited to Russia or detained by Russian law enforcement, he will be held in custody for at least two months.

In early October, Russia’s Investigative Committee identified Budanov as one of four suspected masterminds of over 100 “terrorist attacks” involving drones targeting Russian civilian infrastructure.

A separate ruling issued by Moscow’s Lefortovo district court in April ordered Budanov’s arrest in connection with terrorism conspiracy and the illegal handling of explosives.

Budanov has openly advocated Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil, including territory that Kiev recognizes as being under Moscow’s sovereignty. He initially touted them as “partisan activities,” but later acknowledged the responsibility of the Ukrainian state.

The Washington Post reported in October that the US had led a major overhaul of the Ukrainian special services in the wake of the 2014 armed coup in Kiev. The GUR, the military branch, was “rebuilt from scratch” by the CIA, a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.

Together with its civilian counterpart the SBU, the GUR has assassinated dozens of Russian officials, the report said. The military agency was also allegedly behind numerous long-range drone attacks deep inside Russia, including in Moscow.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) identified Budanov as the mastermind of the October 2022 bombing of the Crimean Bridge, which involved a powerful explosive device smuggled into Russia by an unsuspecting truck driven. The man and two other people in a nearby car were killed when his vehicle exploded.

The SBU has claimed credit for a second deadly attack on the bridge in April involving naval drones. The agency’s chief, Vasily Malyuk, has pledged further assaults.

Moscow has declared Kiev a “de facto sponsor of terrorism” over its tactics and has called for its Western backers to also be accountable for Ukrainian actions.

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