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Ukrainian Due To Be Released From Russian Prison Put In Solitary Confinement

Oleksandr Kostenko attends a court hearing in Simferopol, Crimea, in May 2015.
Oleksandr Kostenko attends a court hearing in Simferopol, Crimea, in May 2015.

A Ukrainian activist jailed in Russia has been put in solitary confinement weeks before his scheduled release, a human rights organization says.

Yana Goncharova of the RosUznik rights group told RFE/RL on June 27 that an administrator at a penal colony in the town of Kirovo-Chepetsk told her that Oleksandr Kostenko had been "punished for systemic violation of the penitentiary's internal order."

According to Goncharova, Kostenko, whose prison term is due to end on August 3, is concerned that the prison administration is imposing more restrictions on him so close to his scheduled release.

Kostenko was sentenced to four years and two months in 2015 after a court in Russia-annexed Crimea convicted him of attacking security troops in February 2014 during protests in the Ukrainian capital against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Kostenko was also found guilty of illegally obtaining, keeping, and carrying parts of a firearm.

He rejected the charges and pleaded not guilty, saying the case against him was politically motivated. Kostenko's prison term was later shortened by eight months.

Crimea was forcibly occupied and annexed in March 2014 by Russia, which characterizes Yanukovych's ouster during the pro-European protests known as Euromaidan as a Western-backed "coup."

One hundred countries in the United Nations have condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law.

The takeover of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine prompted the United States, the European Union, and others to impose sanctions on Russia.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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