الأربعاء , يونيو 10 2020

'Elite Russian troops' in Ukraine trial

The two men, named by Ukrainian officials as Alexander Alexandrov (R) and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, appeared in a cage in Kiev on TuesdayImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The two men, named by Ukrainian officials as Alexander Alexandrov (R) and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, appeared in a cage on Tuesday

Two men described as Russian special-forces soldiers have gone on trial in Kiev accused of waging war against Ukrainian troops.

The pair, named as Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov and alleged to be officers in Russia’s GRU foreign military intelligence, were captured in May during fighting in east Ukraine.

Russia insists the men were not serving soldiers when they were detained.

Prosecutors called for life sentences and the hearing was adjourned.

The two men deny charges of terrorism.

Tuesday’s hearing coincided with the resumption of a trial in southern Russia, where Ukrainian air-force pilot Nadia Savchenko is accused of involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists.

She insists she was captured by rebels before the journalists were killed in a mortar attack and then smuggled over the border into Russia illegally. Russian officials suggest she crossed the border herself, posing as a refugee.

Image copyright
AP

Image caption

Nadia Savchenko appeared in a cage as she gave evidence on Tuesday in the Russian town of Donetsk

Ms Savchenko, who has become a Ukrainian MP during her detention in Russia, dismissed the case against her as a “piece of rubbish” when the trial began last week.

‘Elite’ intelligence team

The court trying the two Russians in Kiev said the judicial system would look at a request by their defence lawyers for the trial to take place in Luhansk region, where the soldiers were captured.

Their detention last May was a major success for Ukrainian forces, which had long maintained that Russian special forces were playing a key role in the military campaign by pro-Russian rebels. One Ukrainian was killed during the fighting in which they were captured.

Ukraine’s security chief told the BBC at the time that they had been part of a 220-strong GRU team deployed in Luhansk.

While Ukraine and the West have said there is clear evidence of Russian military help, the government in Moscow has argued that only volunteers have joined the separatists in the east.

One of the captured men was shown on an unverified video in May saying he was from the central Russian city of Togliatti, where an elite army intelligence unit is based.

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