“I was defending my home”: Ukrainian soldier Pavlo Zaporozhets illegally sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in Russia
The Southern District Court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don has sentenced a Ukrainian soldier, Pavlo Zaporozhets, to 12 years’ imprisonment.
According to ZMINA, Radio Liberty and the Kremlin-aligned news agency TASS, Pavlo Zaporozhets was accused in Russia of an attempted “terrorist act” in Kherson on May 9, 2022, as claimed by Russian investigators.
Russian investigators claimed that Zaporozhets had been recruited by Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and was preparing to commit an act of terrorism during an “Immortal Regiment” event that the Russian administration had planned in the then-occupied city of Kherson in 2022.
Zaporozhets pleaded not guilty to the charges. Refusing trial under the Criminal Code, he asserted that as a soldier, he should be tried under the Third Geneva Convention.
Zaporozhets, a citizen of Ukraine, told the court that he had planned to blow up a Russian military patrol early in the morning – thanks to the curfew, no civilians would have been injured.
Earlier, his lawyer, Aleksei Ladin, highlighted that Zaporozhets, an active serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while fulfilling a combat order, attempted to place an explosive device on the route of a military patrol of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Kherson. However, he was detained at approximately 3 a.m. while attempting to carry this out.
Zaporozhets emphasized in his final statement to the court that he was protecting his home and homeland from Russian occupiers, a duty imposed upon him by the Constitution of Ukraine. He also characterized the criminal prosecution as politically expedient.
The city of Kherson was unequivocally the territory of the state of Ukraine, both de jure and de facto.
According to the lawyer, there was no damage caused by the soldier’s actions.
Ladin asked the court to dismiss the case and recognise Zaporozhets as a prisoner of war, but the court refused.
“In this regard, the defense believes that the only legal solution in the case is the termination of the criminal prosecution of Zaporozhets and his detention in accordance with the provisions regulated by the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, a document which leads to the conclusion that Zaporozhets is a military man. Ukraine determined his status as a prisoner of war and proper proof was adduced in the criminal case,” the lawyer explained.
Earlier, during the submissions by the parties in the Southern District Military Court, the State Prosecutor asked the court to sentence Zaporozhets to 13 years in prison.