Academic Oleksiy Bessarabov and Volodymyr Dudka, a retired captain who had recently become a grandfather, are being accused of planning acts of sabotage in the occupied Crimea on instructions from Ukraine’s Military Intelligence. 

Although there is absolutely no evidence to back the charges, both are probably facing harsh sentences since they have refused to plead guilty in crimes they didn’t commit in exchange for promises of a lighter sentence, according to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

This is the second attempt to begin the ‘trial’ after the first one, was aborted on April 4 due to the multiple discrepancies in indictment papers. 

Hearings are held behind closed doors, without any reasonable grounds.

According to lawyer Sergei Legostov, seven ‘witnesses’ for the prosecution were scheduled to be questioned on August 2, however only two turned up. 

The first witness denied that the mobile telephone allegedly found during the search was in fact Dudka's, suggesting that it could have been planted by the FSB, whose operatives, he added, found no charger to the mobile device.

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The second ‘witness’ was an engineer from an oil plant whose contribution to the case in question was to describe the potential threat posed by the supposedly plotted act of sabotage.

On November 9, 2016, the FSB widely circulated videos showing the arrest, search and ‘confession’ of well-known academic Dmytro Shtyblikov, and the ‘confession’ of Bessarabov, his colleague and friend.  It soon became clear that Dudka had been arrested that same day.

The FSB claimed on November 10 that “members of a sabotage – terrorist group of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Central Intelligence Department” were detained as they had been plotting acts of sabotage on military and other infrastructure in Crimea.”

 The FSB reported that “very powerful explosive devices, weapons and ammunition, special communications devices and other significant evidence of criminal activities" have been seized, including plans of the sites for the intended acts of sabotage.

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This is where the discrepancies begin.  If such a stockpile had been found, why did the FSB raid footage fail to show any  of this?

Instead, the camera lingered over a Ukrainian flag on the wall, a business card purportedly belonging to Dmytro Yarosh, former head of ‘Right Sector’, and ‘weapons’ which sports fans immediately identified as airguns which Styblikov used in Airsoft (Strike Ball) games.

There were only the ‘confessions’ of Shtyblikov and Bessarabov, which both men gave while under FSB control and without lawyers present.