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Russia Arrests Ukrainian Peace Observer On Spying Charges

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has arrested an interpreter with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on charges of spying for Ukrainian intelligence.

Artem Shestakov was working in a monitoring mission for the OSCE in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic of Eastern Ukraine. The FSB allege that he was gathering military intelligence for Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU).

“We have uncovered an SBU agent, a Ukrainian citizen, and arrested him on Russian territory,” the FSB said in a statement. “He relayed information about the movement of military hardware and gave the coordinates of militia units and the phone numbers of their commanders.”

The FSB claim that Shestakov confessed to being recruited as an SBU agent last year under the pseudonym “Sgavor,” and that he had obtained the information whilst working as an interpreter for the OSCE.

It is also alleged that Shestakov provided information which led to the murder of Pavel Dramov, a commander of a separatist battalion in the Luhansk region in Dec. 2015. Those responsible for the murder are still unknown.

“Information obtained from Shestakov and documentary evidence testify that Ukraine’s special forces are illegally using OSCE missions and committing acts of sabotage and terror,” said the FSB statement.

“These facts show how Ukraine’s special forces are ignoring international law.”

Shestakov was allowed to return to Ukraine as his work was not judged as a threat to Russian security. He has been barred from entering Russia in the future.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 9,000 civilians and combatants since hostilities began in April 2014. Low-level fighting still continues in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

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