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Ukrainian special services detain journalist from Moldova on suspicion of espionage

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Aug. 7, 2012, 12:37 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

The Ukrainian special services suspect Semion Nikulin, a citizen of Moldova and a former journalist with the newspaper Nezavisimaya Moldova and employee of the agency Moldpres, of espionage, Kommersant-Ukraine reported on Tuesday.
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The Ukrainian special services suspect Semion Nikulin, a citizen of Moldova and a former journalist with the newspaper Nezavisimaya Moldova and employee of the agency Moldpres, of espionage, Kommersant-Ukraine reported on Tuesday. 

According to Kommersant-Ukraine, Nikulin was detained in Odesa on April 13 on suspicion of espionage and is now located in the Ukrainian Security Service's detention facility in Kyiv.

Kommersant-Ukraine reported, citing sources in the Moldovan Information and Security Service, that Nikulin was detained on the basis of Article 114 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code for "transfer or collection of information for the purpose of supplying information constituting a state secret to a foreign state, a foreign organization, or their representatives," a crime punishable by eight to 15 years in prison. The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration has confirmed the information on Nikulin's detention (the ministry declined to give official comments).

A source in the Moldovan Information and Security Service told the paper the Ukrainian Security Service has asked the special service to provide information on the Nikulin case. The Information and Security Service provided the man's lawyers and the Ukrainian authorities with complete information on him and expressed doubts about his involvement in espionage. "We explained that Semion Nikulin as a professional journalist and an employee of the press center of the United Control Commission understood very well what is allowed and what is not and was unlikely to engage in espionage," the source said.

At the time of his detention, Nikulin, 38, worked for the press center of the United Control Commission (a three-party body directing the peacekeeping operation in Transdniestria). He graduated from the Odesa Ground Forces Institute in 1996 and then served in the Moldovan National Army. In 2003, Nikulin worked as a journalist for the state-run information agency Moldpres and specialized on Transdniestrian issues. In 2004-2007, he was an observer with the newspaper Nezavisimaya Moldova. His Facebook account states that he has been director of the Chisinau-registered firm SCOF Consulting R.A. since 2001

The press center for the Ukrainian Security Service declined to comment on this information to Interfax-Ukraine. 

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