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Russian Convicted In Absentia Of Joining Ukraine's Azov Battalion

Roman Zheleznov

A Moscow court has sentenced a Russian man in absentia after convicting him of fighting against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Roman Zheleznov, who is currently in Ukraine, was found guilty of mercenary activity and sentenced to four years in prison in absentia at a hearing on March 29.

Prosecutors said that Zheleznov had joined the pro-Kyiv Azov Battalion, which has fought against the separatists in the 4-year-old war in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

More than 10,300 people have been killed in the conflict since April 2014.

Russia denies it has sent its soldiers to fight alongside the separatists, despite what Kyiv and NATO say is clear evidence that it has done so.

There are no known cases in which Russia has pressed mercenary-activity charges against anyone for joining the separatists, but it has prosecuted citizens accused of fighting on Kyiv's side.

In June 2017, a court in the city of Samara sentenced a local man, Artyom Shirobokov, to five years in prison in absentia after convicting him of joining the Azov Battalion.

Based on reporting by Interfax and RIA Novosti