Moldova's Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) reports that 56 citizens of Moldova are fighting against Ukraine's army on the side of the Russian-led forces in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, while unofficially this number is estimated at 100 people.
Mercenaries from Moldova became active since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian news outlet ZN.ua reported with reference to Moldova's regional publication Ziarul de Garda.
"Some 18 people of those identified by the SIS so far in cooperation with other agencies and partners from abroad have been detained, and about 15 people have already been convicted. According to unofficial information, two Moldovan citizens were convicted in Ukraine," SIS Public Relations Officer Daniella Mynzat has said.
While mercenaries in Moldova are tried on charges of mercenarism, Ukraine applies the "terrorism" article of the Criminal Code, but both countries handle such cases as criminal ones, the journalists explain.
A mercenary in Moldova is facing imprisonment for a term of three to seven years, while the punishment for the recruitment of mercenaries is imprisonment from five to ten years.
About 70% of mercenaries fighting in the ranks of the Russian occupation forces in Donbas come from socially disadvantaged families or are unemployed. More than half of them are from Transnistria. Most often, money is the motive for their participation in the war in the east of Ukraine.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies identified 54 foreign mercenaries fighting on behalf of military units of the self-proclaimed republics in Donbas.