Konstantin Kravchuk, a lawyer for Russian citizen Alexander Alexandrov detained in Ukraine's Lugansk region, has articulated the stance of Russian Embassy consul Alexei Gruby, who said that Alexandrov and another detained Russian man, Yevgeny Yerofeyev, are 'mercenaries and 'policemen of the LNR', the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic.
"Such a position taken by Russia was announced by consul Alexei Gruby at a meeting with the Russians' lawyers - Konstantin Kravchuk and Oksana Sokolovskaya," the news service of the 1+1 TSN television station reported on May 29.
Kravchuk told TSN that he had met with the Russian consul on May 28.
"According to Gruby, Russia's official position today is that these servicemen, whose contract [with the Russian Armed Forces] expired in December 2014, are mercenaries and have nothing to do with the army," Kravchuk said, according to the TSN report.
"Gruby also confirmed that he would visit Alexandrov and Yerofeyev at the hospital and would try to get in touch with their families. The consul also promised to do everything possible to help their relatives come to Kiev," it said.
Two Russian men were held near the town of Shchastya in the Donbass conflict area on May 16. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) claims they are officers of the Russian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). One of them was injured in the arm, the other in the leg.
On May 19, Ukrainian investigators charged Captain Yerofeyev and Sergeant Alexander Alexandrov with crimes stipulated in Article 258 3 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (participation in terrorist activities).
On May 18, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Alexandrov and Yerofeyev, who were captured in Lugansk region, "were not active members of the Russian Armed Forces at the time of their arrest on May 17."
On May 22, Kiev's Shevchenko District Court ordered that both men be remanded into custody until July 19, inclusively.
At present, the men are being held at the Main Clinic Hospital of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in Kiev. They have undergone several surgeries.
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