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Iran Press TV

Russia detains ex-naval officer suspected of spying for Ukraine

Iran Press TV

Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:31PM

Russia's security service has arrested a former naval officer in the Crimean peninsula for allegedly spying for Ukraine.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said Thursday that the retired captain, who had been arrested in the port city of Sevastopol a day earlier, was accused of collecting information for Ukraine while working on Russia's Black Sea naval fleet in the area.

Later reports identified the officer as Leonid Parkhomenko, saying he had worked in the Black Sea fleet's headquarters and was still a reservist. TV footage released by the FSB also showed a handcuffed man sporting a mustachio while being escorted by FSB officers.

The internal security service said Parkhomenko was being interrogated. He faces the charge of treason and could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.

Officials in Ukraine rejected claims about Parkhomenko, saying the arrest and the entire espionage story around it were an act of provocation by Moscow.

Russia and Ukraine have gone through more than two years of turbulent relations, which started with the ouster of a Moscow-backed government in Kiev in February 2014. The ties were further soured by Crimea's accession to Russia through a referendum in March.

An armed conflict in Ukraine's eastern region has also fueled tensions between the two neighbors. More than 9,600 have been killed in the war between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army in the area, although hostilities have mostly subdued after a ceasefire in early 2015.

Russia has been hit by an array of the European Union and the US sanctions over what the Westerners call Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea and its interference in the conflict in eastern Ukraine .

Russia has defended the results of the vote in the Crimean peninsula, which is mostly populated by ethnic Russians, but it has rejected having a hand in the Ukrainian conflict.

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