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Russian-Appointed Judges In Occupied Crimea Convict Ukrainian As 'Saboteur'

Russian-appointed court officials in Ukraine’s occupied Crimean Peninsula have convicted a Ukrainian citizen on charges of attempted sabotage and illegally possessing weapons, sentencing the man to five years in prison.

The Sevastopol City Court on November 16 also issued a fine of 200,000 rubles ($3,300) against Dmytro Shtyblykov.

Shtyblykov was arrested in Crimea in November 2016 along with two other Ukrainian citizens, Volodymyr Dudka and Oleksiy Bessarabov.

At the time of the arrests, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) accused the three of being members of a Ukrainian "saboteur group from the main intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry."

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry rejected the FSB's allegations, calling them "another fabrication of the Russian secret services aimed at justifying its own repressive measures against local residents and to discredit Ukraine in the international arena."

Rights activists say Russia has jailed several Ukrainians on politically motivated charges since Russian military forces occupied Crimea in early 2014 and, less than a month later, annexed the territory from Ukraine in an illegal referendum.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax