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FSB says it has evidence of contacts between Mejlis, Ukrainian secret services

According to FSB, the Ukrainian military intelligence was using Mejlis in attempts to incite protest by Crimean Tatars in Crimea

MOSCOW, September 15. /TASS/. In the process of investigating the explosion of a gas pipeline in Crimea Russia’s federal security service FSB obtained evidence of links between the organization Mejlis (outlawed in Russia) and Ukrainian secret services, the FSB’s public relations center said on Wednesday.

"In the process of investigating a criminal case against three Russian citizens, involved in an act of sabotage on the gas pipeline near the community of Perevalnoye, the Republic of Crimea, the federal security service FSB obtained evidence about links between the organization called Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, outlawed in Russia, and Ukrainian special services," the FSB’s public relation center said. Also, the Ukrainian military intelligence was using Mejlis in attempts to incite protest by Crimean Tatars in Crimea.

"As follows from what the detainees said, apart from participation in an act of sabotage the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tried to use the Mejlis to incite protest demonstrations by Crimean Tatars against legitimate actions by the authorities and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Crimea," the FSB said.

Earlier, FSB operatives detained three residents of Crimea - a mediator - Mejlis deputy chairman Nariman Jelyalov, and two saboteurs, Asan Akhmetov and Aziz Akhmetov. As a result of detective work and investigative actions it was established that the act of sabotage was organized by the territorial office of the Main Intelligence Directorate in Kherson - a so-called operative service Tavria and the organization Mejlis, prohibited in Russia. On instructions from one of its chiefs the saboteurs traveled to Kherson, in Ukraine, where Ukrainian military intelligence officers instructed them in using explosives. For the act of sabotage the Ukrainian military intelligence promised them a reward of $2,000.

The explosive device was smuggled into Crimea in July, and the explosion on the pipeline took place in August. According to the FSB, the attack’s organizers were Riza Yagyaev-Veliulayev, an agent of the Ukrainian military intelligence who had fled Crimea after a failed terrorist attack in August 2016, in which he had taken part, and his handlers - Ukrainian military intelligence officer Maxim Martynyuk and his chief, head of the operative service Tavria Viktor Zelinsky. "The above-mentioned act of sabotage was authorized by the chief of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, a participant in the abortive attack in 2016," the FSB said.

A criminal case was opened over the gas pipeline explosion under part 1 of article 281 (Sabotage) of the Russian Criminal Code, which envisage a prison term of ten to fifteen years.