The former head of the SBU’s special operations department has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of treason and planning a terrorist act.

 

The Shevchenkivskyi District Court delivered the verdict on former Major General Valeriy Shaitanov on Monday, August 14.

 

The background to the charges

 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyiv and Moscow maintained close political ties and security cooperation, which ended with the 2014 illegal invasion and annexation of parts of the Donbas and Crimea. This raised concerns that the Kremlin may have infiltrated the country’s military and law enforcement agencies.

 

These fears were amply confirmed when the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) arrested one of its own major generals, Valery Shaitanov, in April 2020.

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Evidence produced by the SBU indicated that Shaitanov had been working for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). This not only included the passing of classified information to his FSB handler but also arranging, at Moscow’s instigation, the attempted assassination of the prominent Chechen activist and war veteran, Adam Osmayev in 2017; the attack that took the life of his wife, Amina Okueva.

 

Osmayev was suspected by Russia of being involved in a 2012 plot to assassinate President Putin and served with the Dzhokhar Dudayev International Peacekeeping Battalion fighting for Ukraine in the east during both the 2014 and 2022 invasions.

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The SBU investigation identified that Shaitanov had been recruited by FSB Colonel Igor Yegorov, who had been a frequent visitor to Ukraine, where he took part in joint workshops between the SBU and the FSB.

 

The investigation established that the SBU officer, used the alias Bobyl to communicate with Yegorov using the codename “Elbrus” who was a leader of the organization of terrorist activity in Donbas in the summer of 2014.

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The SBU said Shaitanov was leaking secret information relating to covert operations after 2014 in the Donbas and attempts to recruit lower-ranking SBU officers to work for the FSB and take part in assassination plots.

 

The allegations were supported by surveillance photographs and audio recordings that appeared to show communications between the general and the FSB including one face to face meeting with Yegorov in Croatia in October 2019.

 

The Prosecutor General's Office added: “Criminal proceedings against a member of the Department for Counterintelligence Operations of the FSB, who had recruited Shaitanov, are currently being heard in absentia.”

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