Person of the Week: Roman Sushchenko

posted 20 Feb 2017, 06:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Feb 2017, 06:14 ]
On 14 February 2017 Moscow City Court upheld a ruling by Moscow's Lefortovsky district court to extend the pre-trial detention of Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko until 30 April 2017. As RAPSI reported, the case was heard behind closed doors. Roman Sushchenko was charged with espionage on 7 October 2016. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. RAPSI stated: 'According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ukrainian citizen [Roman Sushchenko] "purposively collected classified information about the Armed Forces and National Guard of Russia." Leak of data abroad could cause damage to the national defense capability, the FSB claimed.' 

Roman Sushchenko was arrested immediately he arrived in Moscow on 30 September 2016 on private business. According to Sushchenko's employer, Ukrinform, Sushchenko was on vacation at the time. Halya Coynash, writing in Human Rights in Ukraine, pointed out that Sushchenko's cousin and other relatives live in Moscow. Since 2010, Sushchenko has been Ukrinform’s correspondent in France. Ukrinform has rejected the accusations levelled at Sushchenko, describing him as 'a journalist with years of unblemished professional reputation', RAPSI reports. RFE/RL reported that Ukrinform called Sushchenko's arrest, 'yet another flagrant and unlawful [Russian] act against Ukrainian nationals.' According to RFE/RL, the 'FSB claims Sushchenko is a colonel with Ukrainian military intelligence who has been collecting classified data about Russia's Armed Forces and National Guard.' Sushchenko's lawyer, Mark Feigin, said his client had no links to any spy agency, RFE/RL reported, adding that 'Ukraine's Foreign Ministry demanded Sushchenko’s "immediate release and unhampered return home," and called on Russia to respect the Ukrainian citizen's rights.'

Photo: RFE/RL

Evgeniya Sokolova, 'Russian court upholds detention of Ukrainian journalist charged with spying,' RAPSI, 14 February 2017
'Ukrainian Journalist In Russian Custody On Espionage Charges,' RFE/RL, 3 October 2016
Halya Coynash, 'Ukrainian journalist’s arrest a chilling warning to stay away from Russia,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 7 October 2017