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7 Dec, 2020 13:27

‘What did he give away?’ Fans joke about tactical tip-offs as ex-footballer gets 12 years in Russian prison for spying for Ukraine

‘What did he give away?’ Fans joke about tactical tip-offs as ex-footballer gets 12 years in Russian prison for spying for Ukraine

Shocked fans have made jokes about Ukrainian ex-professional footballer Vasily Vasilenko after he was sentenced to 12 years in a Russian prison for spying, with a Moscow court keeping the details of the case against him secret.

Vasilenko, who played for three Ukrainian clubs between 1992 and 2001, faced up to 20 years in prison after being charged with espionage for Ukraine following his arrest last year.

Now in his 50s, Vasilenko was originally detained for illegally moving "potent, poisonous, explosive, radioactive substances or ammunition" across a border, but the crime was reclassified under Russian Federation laws earlier this year.

Prosecutors from the Russian capital's Federal Security Service (FSB) had been seeking a punishment of 16 years in a strict regime colony.

"A spy footballer," said one, adding a wisecrack about Russia captain Artem Dzyuba.

"It would be interesting to know what he gave away. Dzyuba's training secrets?"

Another chimed in: "I wonder if he was collecting information about how the leadership of the Russian national team manages to recruit skew-footed and stupid [players.]"

Speaking after Vasilenko's arrest was extended from June to September this year, a law enforcement source told news agency TASS: "FSB officers, in co-operation with the Russian law enforcement officers, determined that Ukrainian national Vasilenko Vasily Ivanovich, was involved in [espionage].

"He was indicted and is now in custody in one of the Moscow’s detention facilities."

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