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Ukraine Accuses RIA Novosti Editor of Treason

Authorities say the Russian state news agency participates in the Kremlin’s “hybrid information war.”

18 May 2018

Kirill Vyshinsky (pictured), the RIA Novosti editor who was detained earlier this week on charges of high treason, will remain in pre-trial custody at least until 13 July, a court in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson decided Thursday.

 

Vyshinsky, who has both Russian and Ukrainian citizenship, is chief editor of RIA Novosti Ukraine, a branch of the Russian state news agency Russia Today. He was detained on 15 May in Kyiv and taken to Kherson the following day.

 

According to the Ukrainian security service SBU, Vyshinsky visited Crimea in 2014 with the goal of “justifying the annexation” of the region by Russia. Later, the SBU claims, he went to the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine to “support the separatists.” Deputy SBU chief Viktor Konenko said Vyshinsky received regular payments of 53,000 euros from Moscow for his “subversive activities,” Meduza reports.

 

At a search of Vyshinsky’s house, security agents allegedly found a Russian passport, a Russian medal “for the return of Crimea” and a medal “For Services to the Fatherland,” next to stacks of dollars and euros and St. George ribbons (a symbol of Russian nationalism, outlawed in Ukraine), according to Meduza.

 

Vyshinsky denies the charges against him. “My client believes this is a political decision rather than legal,” his attorney Andrei Domansky said, as cited by TASS.

 

The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded Vyshinsky’s immediate release yesterday and called on other countries and rights groups to monitor his case, TASS reports in a separate article.

 

The U.S. State Department said it shared Ukraine’s concern about Russian propaganda but that Ukraine must ensure it abides by international human rights law, RFE says.

 

The SBU accuses RIA Novosti Ukraine of participating in a “hybrid information war” waged by Russia against Ukraine.

 

The security service claims that RIA indirectly receives money from Moscow via a European Union country and shell companies registered in Kyiv. SBU spokeswoman Elena Gitlyanskaya said RIA Novosti Ukraine will be liquidated, Meduza writes.

 

Ukraine has banned more than a dozen Russian television channels on accusations of spreading Russian propaganda since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to RFE/RL.

 

 

  • Russia Today editor in chief Margarita Simonyan sees the arrest of Vyshinsky as Kyiv’s revenge for opening the bridge linking mainland Russia with Crimea, she told Echo of Moscow.

 

  • The bridge was opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 15 May, the same day Vyshinsky was detained.

 

  • Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) said it detained a Russian woman and banned four other individuals from the country on suspicion of “fuelling Polish-Ukrainian animosities.” The ABW also claims in recent weeks to have “neutralized two networks involved in the Russian hybrid and information war carried out against the Republic of Poland,” Radio Poland writes.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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