Russia Jails Elderly Crimean Woman for 12 Years in Ukraine Spy Trial

A Russian-controlled court in Crimea said Monday it has jailed an elderly woman for 12 years after finding her guilty of spying for Ukraine.

The Sevastopol city court said in a statement that the woman — identified only by the initial D., her birth year of 1955 and residence of the town of Bakhchysarai — had been recruited into “secret cooperation” with the Ukrainian military and intelligence.

“She collected information about the Black Sea Fleet’s aviation regiment,” the court said, accusing D. of collecting the fleet’s peacetime call signs and other communications data.

The court said it found D. guilty of high treason last Wednesday and sentenced her to 12 years in a penal colony.

The case was heard behind closed doors because it involved state secrets.

The state-run TASS news agency, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, identified the convicted spy as Galina Dovgopolaya.

The Crimean Human Rights Group said Russian authorities detained 66-year-old Dovgopolaya and transferred her under guard to Moscow in November 2019.

Hundreds of Crimeans, mostly Crimean Tatars, have been jailed on espionage and terrorism charges since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Rights groups accuse Russia of jailing ideological opponents there.

Crimea’s largely bloodless annexation by militia forces who later turned out to be Russian troops was followed by war between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Europe’s human rights court ruled in January to admit Ukraine’s complaint against Russian human rights violations in Crimea in 2014-2015. The court said it will not rule on whether Crimea’s annexation was legal under international law.

Russia Jails Former Energy Exec for 15 Years on Spying Charges

A Russian court on Tuesday handed a 15-year prison sentence to a former manager of an energy company for spying for Moldova, the latest in a string of high-profile espionage trials.

Karina Tsurkan, a former board member of the Inter RAO energy group, was detained in 2018 on suspicion of handing classified information to Moldovan intelligence.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Tsurkan, a 46-year-old Moldovan-born Russian citizen, of passing documents detailing Russian energy supplies to Ukraine — including areas held by Russian-backed separatists — in 2015.

The Moscow city court said in a statement on Tuesday that Tsurkan was sentenced to 15 years in prison following a trial that was held behind closed doors.

The court added that 656 million rubles ($8.9 million) seized from Tsurkan was added to state coffers.

Tsurkan’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov said that his client intended to appeal the decision.

Russia’s most prominent rights group Memorial in October described Tsurkan as a political prisoner who had been denied a fair trial.

“The Tsurkan case is directly related to the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine,” where Russia has backed armed separatists since a popular uprising in 2014, Memorial said.

The rights group described the trial as part of an effort by the authorities “to maintain the image of Russia as a besieged fortress surrounded by enemies.”

The former executive’s sentencing was the latest in a string of high-profile espionage cases in Russia that has spurred criticism from rights groups.

The FSB in July arrested on treason charges a respected former defense journalist who had recently become an advisor to the head of Russia’s space agency.

A court in Moscow the month before handed former U.S. marine Paul Whelan a 16-year jail term on espionage charges.

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