"Spying cases"

Since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the so-called ‘spy article’ (Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code) has been increasingly applied to the Ukrainian citizens. At the same time, the Russian nationals who had openly expressed their support of Ukraine have been charged with high treason (Article 275 of the same Code).

Within a chain of the recent ‘spy cases,’ three ones are particularly noteworthy. Those are the cases of Viktor Shur (a Russian citizen who holds Ukraine’s residence permit), Valentyn Vyhivskyi, and Yuriy Soloshenko (who both are Ukrainian nationals). All of them were covertly arrested during their stays outside mainland Ukraine and forwarded to Lefortovo detention centre in Moscow, which is de facto a prison of the Russian Federal Security Service.

The common trait of their cases is the charge of espionage on behalf of Ukraine and of attempts to transmit confidential data to the Ukrainian intelligence, which presumably threatened Russia’s state security. The accused were denied their right to an independent legal counsel and consular defense. As an outcome of the investigation, all the three fully admitted their supposed guilt.

The analysis of these cases is complicated due to the scarcity of information, since all of them are classified and concealed even from the defendants’ next of kin. However, despite the fragmented evidence, there is reason to question the legality of their detention, as well as of the subsequent operation of the investigative authorities.

Yuriy Soloshenko was released on parole and returned to Ukraine in June 2016, while Viktor Shur and Valentyn Vyhivskyi are still kept behind bars.