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Ukraine launches criminal case into coal exports from self-proclaimed republics

June 18, 1:56 UTC+3 KIEV

According a spokeswoman for the country's military prosecutors, such actions may be regarded as "financing terrorism"

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KIEV, June 17. /TASS/. Ukraine’s military prosecutors have launched a criminal case into exports of coal, extracted in the self-proclaimed Eastern Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR), a spokeswoman for the country’s chief military prosecutor has said.

"Under the leadership of Sergei Kurchenko (Ukrainian businessman, put on the wanted list by the prosecutors), officials and other individuals from certain legal entities on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions purchase anthracite coal, extracted illegally at coal mines seized by DPR and LPR," spokeswoman Larisa Sargan said in a statement, posted on her Facebook page on Saturday night.

She claims that the coal is being taken to Russia, where it is sold, including to foreign buyers. According to Sargan, such actions should be scrutinized on whether they may be regarded as "financing terrorism."

A pre-trial investigation was launched, Sargan said.

Sergei Kurchenko, a Ukrainian businessman and founder of the Gas Ukraine group of companies, along with a group of other individuals close to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was put on the wanted list in 2014. Charges against him included graft and fraud regarding liquefied natural gas sales.

Kurchenko, once described as the "wizard of gas" and the "gas king of Ukraine," fled the country shortly after the ouster of Yanukovych, while his assets were arrested.

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