Court sentences Russian national who tried to swim from Crimea to Odesa to join Ukraine’s Armed Forces to six years behind bars

Crimea’s Supreme Court has sentenced a resident of St. Petersburg to six years in a strict-regime colony over charges of preparing to commit high treason and preparing to cross the border illegally, Russia’s news agency Interfax reports, citing the court’s press service.

According to the investigation, the man, born in 1982, tried to swim from Crimea to the city of Odesa to join the ranks of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and fight in the war on Ukraine’s side.

It is reported that the convicted man contacted representatives of a Ukrainian volunteer unit. They allegedly recruited the man and helped him organise his escape to Ukraine. At first, he wanted to cross the border in the Bryansk region of Russia but he was unable to do so, the press service clarifies.

Then the convicted man decided to try another approach — to reach Odesa by swimming from the territory of Crimea, Interfax adds. For that purpose, the man allegedly bought a wetsuit, flippers, hand bearing compass, underwater light, and other equipment.

On 6 August, the man started towards Odesa through the Black Sea water area, the agency claims. “He was using different swimming and water rest techniques, while taking secrecy measures, trying to dodge potentially being stopped from committing his unlawful activities by employees of Russian border authorities,” the statement by the press service reads.

On 8 August, the man was detained by employees of the border guard. A camouflage uniform, army boots, and other items “acquired with the purpose of coming over to the enemy’s side” were found on his person, the court claims

The man was also given an additional punishment in the form of one year of freedom restriction. The sentence has not yet entered into force.

Interfax notes that the distance between Odesa and Olenivka, the most western point of Crimea, is 180 km in a straight line.

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