Russian Court Jails 72-Year-Old For 12 Years In Treason Case

A court in southwestern Russia has sentenced a 72-year-old pensioner to 12 years in a high-security penal colony for high treason.

The Rostov regional court handed down the sentence against Vladimir Morgunov after finding him guilty under Article 275 of the Criminal Code, the court in Rostov-on-Don said in a statement on October 9.

Morgunov, a resident of the village of Chertkovo, close to the border with Ukraine, can appeal the verdict.

The prosecution had requested eight years of imprisonment for the accused.

The Federal Security Service's (FSB) regional branch said Morgunov was detained in November 2018. Cellphones, SIM cards, and a Ukrainian and Russian passport issued in his name were seized during a search of his house.

Reports said documents indicating that Morgunov is a Cossack colonel were also found.

The FSB accused him of passing information to a foreign intelligence officer whom he met in person in Ukraine.

Investigators did not say which country the intelligence officer worked for, but they alleged that person was interested in economic, social, and political data on Chertkovo district, and in the locations of military equipment in areas close to the border with Ukraine.

In recent years, several Russian citizens have been accused of treason or disseminating classified or sensitive information.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been strained over Moscow's March 2014 takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region and its support of separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine. The conflict there has left more than 13,000 people dead since April 2014.