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71-year-old Ukrainian dies in Russian custody amid spy allegations

Viktor Demchenko from Donetsk Oblast was held in a Rostov-on-Don detention center, after being detained on espionage charges since summer 2023.
Russian flag behind rusty barbed wires with shadows. Symbol of violation of human rights in Russia Russian flag behind rusty barbed wires with shadows. Symbol of violation of human rights in Russia. Photo: depositphotos
71-year-old Ukrainian dies in Russian custody amid spy allegations

The Russian human rights group Memorial reported that 71-year-old Ukrainian citizen Viktor Demchenko, who was illegally transported from occupied Donetsk Oblast and held in a Rostov-on-Don detention center, has died. According to Memorial, information appeared on the court website registry showing his case was terminated due to the defendant’s death.

Even before Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, dozens of Ukrainians, mostly residents of territories occupied since 2014, were held prisoner in Russia. After the invasion, Russia continued its practices of terror and abductions of Ukrainian citizens.

Russia’s state news agency TASS reported that Demchenko allegedly died of a stroke at the Rostov prison hospital on 31 December.

Russia had accused Demchenko of “espionage,” “participating in a terrorist community,” and “illegal possession of weapons or ammunition.” However, exactly what he did is unknown.

Seven hearings were held in Demchenko’s case, with the next one planned for 25 February. The trial began in late September 2023 and was conducted behind closed doors, as the materials were classified as secret. That is why we do not even have a photograph of the man.

Demchenko was born and lived in Mospyne, Donetsk Oblast. Mospyne has been under Russian occupation since 2014.

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