Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said the case of Ukrainian citizen Roman Sushchenko, accused in Russia on espionage charges, and last week's arrest of RIA Novosti Ukraine news service director Kirill Vyshinsky have nothing in common.
"All comparisons of Sushchenko with correspondents of RIA Novosti Ukraine are groundless not in terms of moral standards, but in legal terms," Zakharova said at a talk show on the Rossiya-1 television channel late on Sunday, the Russian news agency TASS has reported.
"RIA Novosti Ukraine's staff had the whole package of Ukrainian documents to work. And it was their work as journalists that was a reason for searches and then for arrests," Zakharova said.
"Speaking about Sushchenko, who entered the territory of Russia, he was not engaged in journalistic activities…, most importantly, and this fact was protocoled, Sushchenko was not a journalist when he was entering Russia," Zakharova said. "It can be proved by documents he filled in as he never turned in documents applying for a journalist's visa."
As UNIAN reported earlier, Sushchenko, a correspondent of the Ukrainian Ukrinform news agency, was detained at an airport in Moscow, Russia, in September 2016. He was charged with espionage. Russian lawyer Mark Feygin on March 29 called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to facilitate the exchange of his client, Roman Sushchenko.
On March 27, the journalist's detention was extended for six months.
On May 15, Chief of RIA Novosti's Kyiv office Kirill Vyshinsky was detained and indicted on charges of high treason. The SBU and prosecutors had uncovered the illegal activity of a Russian-controlled media chain in Ukraine.
It was established that in spring 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea, Vyshinsky produced anti-Ukrainian materials and received a medal "For the Return of Crimea" from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the SBU said.
Vyshinsky jointly with several other journalists started actively supporting the terrorist organizations in Donbas, the "DPR" and the "LPR," after his return from Crimea in 2014.
Vyshinsky's lawyer said on May 16 his client had been transferred by Ukrainian law enforcers from Kyiv to Kherson for hearings on a preventive measure.
The Kherson City Court in Ukraine's south ruled on May 17 that Vyshinsky should be arrested until July 13 pending investigation of the charges against him.