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Ukrainian court sentences Russian proxy “republic” ex-leaders to life imprisonment in absentia for 2014 airplane downing

Igor Plotnitsky inspecting a military parade honoring the victory in WWII as the so-called “LNR head.” Occupie Luhansk, May 2015. Source.
Ukrainian court sentences Russian proxy “republic” ex-leaders to life imprisonment in absentia for 2014 airplane downing
Today, 16 March, the judges of the Krasnohvardiyskyi Raion court of Dnipro city have delivered a verdict in absentia to Igor Plotnitsky, the former head of the Russian occupation administration of Luhansk that calls itself the “Luhansk People’s Republic” {“LNR”) and his two accomplices.

The court sentenced all three men to life imprisonment without confiscation of property in the case of shooting down a Ukrainian military cargo aircraft near Luhansk airport in June 2014, killing 49 soldiers aboard the plane.

The two Russian-run self-proclaimed “republics” occupy roughly one-third of Ukraine’s Donbas region. Map: Euromaidan Press

The judges were reading out their 130-page verdict over two days. In it, they found “LNR head” Igor Plotnitsky and two other militant leaders – Andrey Patrushev and Alexandr Gureev – guilty of committing a terror attack, which was their main accusation at the trial. It was the Prosecutor’s Office that requested life imprisonment for the three suspects.


Also, the court found the commanders of the militants financially responsible to the relatives of the victims of the terrorist attack and obliged Plotnitsky, Patrushev, and Gureyev to pay UAH 500,000 ($18,000) in moral damages to each family of 49 victims of the attack. Also, those sentenced to life imprisonment are ordered to pay legal costs.

Paratroopers of the 80th Brigade in front of Luhansk Airport, spring 2014.
Overnight into 14 June 2014, Russian-backed armed groups attacked and downed the Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin IL-76MD cargo aircraft that was making its landing approach to the Luhansk Airport, controlled at the moment by the Ukrainian military. All 40 paratroopers of the 25th Separate Dnipropetrovsk Brigade and 9 crew members died in the crash six kilometers away from the landing strip.
Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76MD a month before it was shot down near Luhansk by Russian-hybrid forces. Source.

The Russian-hybrid forces controlled the entire nearby city of Luhansk, the regional capital, and they had cut off most of the land passages to the airport. This is why Ukraine attempted to proceed with the rotation of the troops and delivering supplies by air.

A group of Ukrainian paratroopers before the flight in the foreground of the IL-76, 13 June 2014. Source.

According to the court, the terrorist attack with the MANPAD Igla on the Ukrainian plane was organized by Igor Plotnitsky, the commander of the illegal armed formation Zarya at the time, with a group of accomplices.

In total, Ukraine lost 22 aircraft in 2014 amid the Russian aggression in the Donbas, including 12 planes with 3 cargo planes among them.

The wreckage of the shot down IL-76. Source.

A few months later, Plotnitsky became the “LNR head” and ruled the Russian-occupied part of Luhansk Oblast from the late summer of 2014 to November 2017. Eventually, he fled to Russia after a conflict with his “ministry of internal affairs,” Igor Kornet, who had staged a “coup” against Plotnitsky.

Plotnitsky remains on Ukraine’s wanted list for years.

Russia-hybrid troops scavenging the wreckage of the IL-76. Source.

The Krasnohvardiyskyi Raion court of Dnipro was considering the case of the downed IL-76MD for more than 2 years since February 2018.

The verdict of the first instance court can be appealed against in a court of appeal within 30 days from the date of the announcement of the verdict.

Luhansk Airport captured by Russian-hybrid forces, September 2014

Earlier a court in Pavlohrad, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, tried Major-General of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Nazarov for neglect of duty in the same case and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

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