Four members of a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group who kidnapped people in Kharkiv Oblast have been sentenced to 11 years in prison, Ukraine’s SBU security service reported on Dec. 24.
According to the SBU, during the occupation of the area around the Kharkiv town of Izyum, the group was tasked with identifying and physically eliminating Ukrainians who had taken part in the anti-terrorist operation in the east of Ukraine.
Counter-intelligence officers of the SBU, together with special forces of the Central Security Service "A", neutralized the enemy group during a combat operation in October. Four Russian saboteurs were detained in the course of the operation.
The court sentenced them to 11 years in prison each.
The SBU said that among them were two staff members of the 16th separate special brigade of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (better known as the GRU).
Two others were Wagner Group mercenaries.
“At the beginning of September this year, they kidnapped three residents of the village of Borova who participated in the anti-terrorist operation. The invaders kept the abducted men tied in an earthen pit with bags on their heads,” the report said.
The victims were brutally tortured and threatened with murder, the SBU added.
In this way, the invaders conducted interrogations and tried to “beat out” information about other Ukrainian patriots.
Based on the collected evidence, the court found the defendants guilty under Part 2 of Art. 28 and Part 1 of Art. 438 (violation of the laws and customs of war, committed by a group of persons following a prior conspiracy) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The investigation was conducted by investigators of the SBU of Kharkiv Oblast under the procedural guidance of Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor's Office.