MOSCOW — The Russian intelligence agency FSB said on Monday it has arrested a Ukrainian journalist who is suspected of spying in Russia.
The FSB claimed in a statement that Roman Sushchenko is an officer with the Ukrainian military intelligence who has been collecting information about the Russian Armed Forces.
The arrest, confirmed by a Moscow court on Monday, comes amid an almost complete breakdown in relations between the two neighbors, triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The reporter’s employer, Ukrinform, said early on Monday that Sushchenko has been working for it since 2002 and was based in Paris the past couple of years. Ukrinform said Sushchenko was in Moscow last week on vacation and disappeared on Friday before surfacing in a Moscow jail.
The FSB said Sushchenko, whom it referred to as a colonel, was “intentionally” collecting sensitive information about the Russian army and the National Guard and is expected to face charges of espionage.
“All the accusations of ‘spying’ against Roman Sushchenko, a journalist with an impeccable reputation spanning over many years who was accredited in one of the most influential European countries, can only be described as Russia’s yet another flagrant and unlawful act against Ukrainian nationals,” the news agency said in a statement.
Reports of the journalist’s arrest first leaked in the early hours on Monday when a group of human rights activists on a routine inspection around the Lefortovo prison encountered a man in a prison cell who said he was detained on suspicions of espionage.
A Russian state news television station on Monday showed images of a disheveled Sushchenko being led by masked men to an interrogation room.