Ukrinform's Paris-based correspondent Roman Sushchenko was illegally detained on September 30, 2016 in Moscow, where he arrived on a private trip. On October 7, 2016, he was charged with "espionage." Russia's FSB claimed that Sushchenko is a member of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. The latter denied this allegation.
During his detention, psychological pressure was put on Roman to confess guilt. However, he did not give up.
On June 4, 2018, the Moscow City Court sentenced Sushchenko to 12 years in a high-security penal colony. The Supreme Court of Russia upheld the verdict on September 12.
On November 7, 2018, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) informed Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow that Sushchenko had been transferred to Penal Colony No. 11 of the FSIN directorate for the Kirov region (the town of Kirovo-Chepetsk, the village of Utrobino).
Sushchenko in the colony lives in a so-called "safe place," in a prison cell separated from other prisoners. During the seven months of his stay in the colony, his wife and daughter visited Sushchenko two times; the Ukrainian consul also came to him two times. Since the colony has a strict regime, there is a limit on parcels - one in three months.
Many high-ranking officials have called for the release of Sushchenko: representatives of the U.S. State Department, the EU, the European Parliament, the OSCE, the PACE, the UN committees, the Polish Sejm, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, the United States and the EU also called for the release of Sushchenko.
Statements in support of the Ukrainian journalist were made by such organizations as Reporters Without Borders, International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, UNESCO, EANA, US Helsinki Commission, PEN International Writers' Union. In addition, various rallies in support of Sushchenko, as well as other Ukrainian political prisoners have been held in different cities of the world.
Sushchenko was awarded with the Order for Courage of the 3rd degree. He became the laureate of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) for the protection of freedom of speech. In addition, the jury of the Sakharov Prize "For Journalism as a Deed" awarded the Sakharov Order for Courage to him.
It should be noted that Roman Sushchenko is fond of drawing. During the period from 2016 to 2019, while being imprisoned in Moscow’s Lefortovo jail and colony in the Kirov region, he created more than 30 drawings.
Roman Sushchenko works with the Ukrainian National News Agency Ukrinform since 2002 and is agency's own correspondent in France since 2010. His son, daughter, wife and elderly mother are waiting for him at home.
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