82-year-old Ukrainian labels his jailers ‘fascists’ (VIDEO)
A court in the southwestern Ukrainian city of Zhitomyr on Tuesday sentenced 82-year-old Yuri Chernishov to 15 years behind bars, finding him guilty of committing high treason. According to the prosecution, the defendant has been collecting information on Ukrainian troops, defenses and their locations, and sending the data to an alleged Russian contact.
The defendant was visibly shocked by the court’s verdict, which effectively meant a life sentence for him, given his advanced age. Chernishov became unruly during the hearings, condemning his jailers and branding them “fascists,” footage from the courtroom circulated by local media shows.
Apart from the lengthy jail term, he was also stripped of his military rank of colonel (he had served with the Soviet forces back in the 1980s), and had his assets seized.
Dramatic video of a 82-year-old Ukrainian man being sentenced to 15 years in jail for espionage in favour of Russia. The man yells “Fascists!” and proceeds to recite his own poetry in Ukrainian. pic.twitter.com/ZoDvz1FPpY— Leonid ХВ Ragozin (@leonidragozin) January 9, 2024
According to the prosecutors, Chernishov maintained contact with an individual, believed to be a Russian national and a member of the Wagner Group private military company. The defendant was purportedly active between September 2022 and February 2023, reconnoitering Ukrainian military positions in his home city, mapping them and then sending the imagery to the contact.
Chernishov, however, has denied any wrongdoing. According to local media reports, he only admitted to talking to the aforementioned individual on social media, pointing out that he was simply not able to carry out the offense he had been accused of, given his old age and poor health.
He also claimed that the case against him came as a revenge for his literary and analytical publications, in which he consistently criticized Ukrainians and their statehood.
Such arguments, however, apparently left neither the prosecution nor the court convinced, given that Chernishov received the maximum possible sentence for his purported act of high treason.
“The defendant pleaded not guilty in court. Behaved defiantly, used his health condition to drag on the case. He did not hide his pro-Russian ideological views, confirming his contemptuous attitude towards Ukrainians,” the prosecutors said in a statement. The prosecution also claimed that Chernishov jumped bail during his trial and attempted to flee Ukraine for Belarus. The man, however, was apprehended on the border and placed in pre-trial detention.