Russian court jails two Ukrainians for militant activities in Chechnya

May 27, 2016 4:00 pm

Russian military troops take part in a military drill close to Chechnya, March 19, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

A Russian court has sentenced two Ukrainians to up to 20 years in jail for fighting alongside militants against the Russian army across the North Caucasus region of Chechnya in the mid-1990s.
The highest court in Chechnya, which is a Russian republic, on Thursday sentenced Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpyuk to 20 and 22-and-a-half years in prison respectively after they were found guilty of killing Russians while fighting alongside Chechen militants in 1994 and 1995.
They were accused of killing dozens of Russian soldiers as part of a squad from the ultra-right Ukrainian organization UNA-UNSO. The extremist organization has been banned in by the country’s Supreme Court.
The convicts’ lawyer, Ilya Novikov, who also represented newly-released Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, has hinted that the pair could also be freed. ’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa has pledged that would fight for their freedom.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has recently vowed to secure the release of all Ukrainians held in Russia. He recently secured a deal with the Russian government under which Savchenko was exchanged for two Russian nationals, Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, who were held by Ukraine.
The Kremlin said Savchenko was granted a pardon by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukrainian servicewoman Nadiya Savchenko talks to the media at the Boryspil international airport outside Kiev, Ukraine, May 25, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Moscow-Kiev ties have been in tatters since the Crimean Peninsula joined Russia in a referendum in March 2014.
Ukraine has also been carrying out a military crackdown on pro-Russian forces fighting for greater autonomy in the east.
According to the United Nations, over 9,000 people have lost their lives and some 20,000 have been injured in the conflict since April 2014.
Russia and Ukraine, along with Germany and France, agreed to a truce deal on Ukraine in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in February 2015. The ceasefire agreement reduced hostilities in the eastern regions of Ukraine but sporadic fighting occurs.
Violence in Chechnya
Violence first broke out in Chechnya in 1994, when 250,000 people were forced to flee to neighboring territories because of a war between Chechen separatists and the Russian army.
After a short-lived period of relative peace — from 1996 to 1999, war resumed following attacks blamed on Chechen militant groups.
Sporadic attacks and militant clashes are still common in Russia’s North Caucasus republics, especially in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia. Russia has been fighting militants in the North Caucasus since the mid-1990s.
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