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Ukraine Sentences Man To 11 Years In Prison For Joining Russia-Backed Separatists

Viktor Mykhed in court (file photo)
Viktor Mykhed in court (file photo)

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine -- A court in Ukraine has sentenced a Ukrainian citizen to 11 years in prison over his alleged involvement in the conflict in the country's east alongside Russia-backed separatists.

The court in the eastern city of Slovyansk on December 15 found Viktor Mykhed guilty of creating and participating in a terrorist group, and involvement in the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and civilians.

Investigators said Mykhed was a close associate of Igor Bezler, a commander of the separatists in Donetsk. They said he took part in escorting captured Ukrainian soldiers and shot propaganda video clips for the separatists, including a fake execution by shooting.

The defendant has rejected the charges against him and claimed he had been deprived of a fair trial. He said was not provided with enough time to get acquainted with the case file and that his request to have a translator from Ukrainian to Russian was ignored.

More than 13,200 people have been killed during more than seven years of fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, known commonly as the Donbas, have been under the separatists' control since April 2014, weeks after Russia forcibly annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow maintains it is not involved in Ukraine's domestic affairs.

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