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Ukraine’s Security Service charges MP with state treason, conducts searches

Nestor Shufrych is known as one of the most pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. He was elected as a member of “The Oppositional Party for Life,” which had 13% of votes in the 2019 elections.
SBU officers reading to Nestor Shufrych the text of the suspicion. Photo by SBU

According to Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), Shufrych was suspected of treason. The SBU, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Prosecutor General’s Office collected “a well-argued evidence base about the anti-Ukrainian activities of the current MP Nestor Shufrych.”

On 15 September 2023, Shufrych was officially informed of the suspicion under Art. 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (treason). According to the investigation materials, Shufrych closely cooperated with and fulfilled the tasks of former Ukraine’s Security and Defense Secretary Volodymyr Sivkovich, an FSB agent coordinating the Russian agency in Ukraine. Sivkovich fled to Moscow in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity but kept his ties in Ukraine and continued working, particularly through Shufrych and the former head of the SBU Department in the Crimean Autonomous Republic, Oleg Kulinich, who was arrested in Ukraine in 2022.

According to the investigation, one of Shufrych’s main tasks was subversive activity in the information sphere.

He systematically spread the Kremlin’s narratives that the Ukrainian state is an allegedly artificial entity, that Ukraine and Russia have a single history, and that Ukrainians and Russians are supposedly “one nation.” In this way, Shufrych tried to develop pro-Russian sentiments in Ukrainian society,” the SBU reported.

The Security Service didn’t specify whether Shufrych maintained his activity after the 2022 full-scale invasion, although his previous calls to support Russia and separatism in Donbas are well-known.

Currently, 45 searches are being conducted at the places of residence of the suspect and his close colleagues, the Security Service informed. The pre-trial investigation is ongoing.

On the evening of 15 September 2023, the court ordered a 2-month detention for Shufrych for the time of court hearings, with no option for bail. If the court recognizes Shufrych guilty, he may face up to 15 years in prison.

Most MPs of pro-Russian “The Oppositional Party for Life” changed their rhetoric and almost disappeared from public space after the 2022 Russian invasion. One of the party MPs known as Putin’s man in Ukraine, Victor Medvedchuk, was charged with state treason and arrested at the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war. He was exchanged to Russia for the release of 100 Ukrainian POWs.

According to shared photos, SBU officers found during the search a concept of creating separate political entities in Ukraine’s Donbas, signed by Shufrych and Medvedchuk and dated back to 2014.

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