Two Ukrainians Jailed For 14 Years In Crimea On Sabotage Charges

A Moscow-controlled court in Crimea has sentenced two Ukrainian citizens to 14 years in prison after convicting them of plotting sabotage on the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula.

The Sevastopol City Court pronounced the verdicts and sentences on April 4 against Volodymyr Dudka and Oleksiy Bessarabov.

The two went on trial in early August, which was held behind closed doors.

Dudka, Bessarabov, and a third Ukrainian man, Dmytro Shtyblykov, were arrested in Crimea in November 2016 and charged with attempted sabotage.

At the time of their arrests, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) accused the three of being members of a Ukrainian "saboteur group from the main intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry."

Ukraine's Defense Ministry rejected the FSB's allegations, calling them "another fabrication of the Russian secret services aimed at justifying its own repressive measures against local residents and discrediting Ukraine in the international arena."

Shtyblykov was tried separately. In November 2017, the Sevastopol City Court found him guilty of attempted sabotage and illegally possessing weapons. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Human rights activists say Russian-installed authorities in Crimea have jailed numerous Ukrainian citizens on politically motivated charges since Russian military forces occupied the Ukrainian peninsula in early 2014 and, less than a month later, illegally annexed the territory through a dubious referendum.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax