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Two Ukrainians charged in absentia over abduction of Russian servicemen

An investigation is underway now to identify other persons involved in the crime

MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigative Committee has charged in absentia two Ukrainian nationals over their involvement in last month’s abduction of Russian servicemen on the border with Crimea, IC’s official spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko told TASS on Thursday.

The Department for the Investigation of Crimes Related to the Use of Banned Means and Methods of Warfare found out that the Ukrainians - Roman Tkachenko and Sergey Pavlenko - were involved in abducting Russian servicemen Alexander Baranov and Maxim Odintsov. Tkachenko and Pavlenko were charged in absentia with "complicity in abduction."

Odintsov and Baranov are the former Ukrainian servicemen who joined the Russian army after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014. They were abducted by the Ukrainian Security Service officers on November 20, 2016 and taken to Ukraine’s Nikolayev Region. Ukraine’s SBU accused the servicemen of treason and desertion. A court in Nikolayev arrested Baranov and Odintsov for two months.

The IC spokeswoman said earlier this year Tkachenko and Pavlenko "entered into a criminal conspiracy with representatives of Ukraine’s security agencies aimed at abducting Russian servicemen, who previously had Ukraine’s citizenship and served in the Armed Forces of that country."

Both Ukrainians served in the Kozhedub National University of the Air Force in Kharkov, northeastern Ukraine, according to the IC. They were tasked to find the former students of the university, who failed to get attested documents of receiving higher education, and convince them to arrive in Ukraine’s territory, Petrenko explained.

Pavlenko and Tkachenko entered into correspondence through social networks with the Russian servicemen, promising to help them get the attested documents. "Later Tkachenko convinced the Russian servicemen to personally arrive in the zone of Russia’s border with Ukraine and cross it, saying that he could hand over the documents only on Ukraine’s territory," Petrenko said.

Tkachenko knew that other accomplices were ready to commit the abduction, she added. As soon as Baranov and Odintsov reached Ukraine’s territory, they were captured by Ukraine’s security agencies’ representatives who forced them into a car. Now the men are in Ukraine’s pre-trial detention center.

An investigation is underway now to identify other persons involved in the crime, Petrenko said.