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Russian Supreme Court Upholds Sentence For Ukrainian Convicted Of 'Promoting Terrorism'

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Pavlo Hryb attends a court hearing in Rostov-on-Don in March 2019.

Russia's Supreme Court has upheld a six-year prison sentence given to 20-year-old Ukrainian national Pavlo Hryb.

The North Caucasus Regional Court on March 22 convicted Hryb of "promoting terrorism," a charge he contends was fabricated by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Hryb’s lawyers appealed the verdict, but in a ruling on July 23 the Supreme Court said it found no grounds to reverse the verdict.

Hryb’s father, Ihor Hryb, condemned the March verdict as a “death sentence for Pavlo...who needs an urgent medical operation in order to live.”

Ukraine denounced the verdict, calling it "unlawful," and Hryb announced a hunger strike to protest the ruling as well as his treatment in jail.

Hryb said he had been "denied medical treatment" while in custody.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded the "immediate reversal of the unlawful sentence" and called for Hryb's "release and unimpeded return to Ukraine."

Hryb went missing in August 2017 after he traveled to Belarus to meet a woman he met online.

Relatives believe he walked into a trap set by the FSB, which later told Ukraine that Hryb was being held in a detention center in Russia on suspicion of promoting terrorism.

Seized In Belarus

Ihor Hryb said that his son was detained when he was returning from Belarus to Ukraine.

“When he was already walking with a ticket in his pocket to the railway station in order to leave [the Belarusian city of] Homel for Ukraine, he was seized by special service officers,” Ihor Hryb told Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

"Either they were Belarusians, or it was the FSB. But in any case, it was done with the assistance of the Belarusian special services," he added.

Russian investigators accuse Hryb of using the Internet to try to convince a teenage girl in the Russian city of Sochi to set off a bomb at a high-school graduation ceremony.

Ihor Hryb has argued that Russia's case against his son was in retaliation for his Internet posts that were openly critical of Moscow's interference in Ukraine.

In his statement at the trial, Hryb also said that "nobody would have thought" that Belarus might be "in fact, a dangerous country for Ukrainians," where Russia's secret services could abduct them.

Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

Moscow backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed some 13,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

Based on reporting by Interfax and Current Time TV
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