An opposition MP has been arrested and detained on suspicion of treason in Ukraine, with the nation’s security service claiming to have collected evidence of him spreading Russian propaganda.
Nestor Shufrych, a member of the Opposition Platform — For Life party that was banned by President Volodymyr Zelensky through martial law measures last March following the Russian invasion, is facing 15 years in prison on suspicion of high treason. He is alleged to have spread the “Kremlin’s false narratives that the Ukrainian state is ‘an artificial entity’, that Ukraine and Russia ‘have one history’, and that Ukrainians and Russians are ‘one people’.”
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) claimed in a statement on Friday that the current member of the Ukrainian parliament had closely cooperated with and carried out instructions” of former National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Secretary Volodymyr Sivkovych, who fled to Russia in 2014 following the Western-backed Maidan Revolution that toppled the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovych.
The SSU has claimed that Sivkovych served as an agent of the Russian FSB intelligence agency and oversaw “Russian assets” in Ukraine. In addition, the security service claimed that he established a “mole farm” to carry out “subversive activities against Ukraine.”
In total, 45 searches were carried out in the homes of MP Shufrych and his “close associates” by the SSU. Under Article 111 of the Ukrainian constitution, the crime of treason is punishable with up to 15 years in prison. According to Ukrainian state media Suspilne, Shufrych was given a two-month detention order on Friday evening following his arrest by a district court in Kyiv.
The court ordered a 2-month detention for Shufrych for the time of court hearings, with no option for bail.
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) September 15, 2023
The arrest of the political rival of President Zelensky comes amid questions over whether his martial law government will hold elections amid the war with Russia.
Under normal circumstances, voters would head to the polls in March of next year, however, Zelensky has said that he would only consider allowing elections if the United States and the European Union provide more money to cover the costs.
A typical election, Zelensky said last month, would cost around 5 billion hryvnia ($135 million). Yet, the cost would likely be much higher due to millions of Ukrainians living abroad after fleeing the country after the invasion.
Even if Zelensky were to approve elections, it is unclear if he would lift the prohibition on several opposition parties, including the Opposition Platform — For Life to which Shufrych belongs, which were banned last year for being too pro-Russian, despite the Opposition Platform — For Life denouncing Moscow’s invasion.
In the 2019 election that saw Zelensky elected, the Opposition Platform — For Life party was the second most popular party besides Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
While Zelensky’s leadership during the war has seen his support in the country soar, his government has recently come under heavy scrutiny over a growing number of corruption scandals in former Soviet state, with 78 per cent of the public holding the president personally responsible for the corruption issues within the government and military.
Zelensky Says He Won’t Hold Elections Unless U.S. and EU Pay for Themhttps://t.co/yAP2Hxk9iG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 28, 2023