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Russia jails ex-energy executive for spying

December 29, 2020

A court sentenced the former board member of a state energy company to 15 years for passing information on to the former Soviet republic of Moldova. Karina Tsurkan denies any wrongdoing.

Karina Tsurkan behind bars wearing a pink sweater
Energy holding company Inter RAO board member, Karina Tsurkan, was sentence to 15 years for spyingImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Sputnik/S. Pyatakov

Russia sentenced a former top manager of state energy holding company Inter RAO to 15 years in jail on Tuesday.

Karina Tsurkan was found guilty of spying for former Soviet republic Moldova at a trial held behind closed doors, Russian news agencies reported.

The Moscow City Court verdict additionally ordered 656 million rubles (€7.3 million, $8.9 million), seized from Turcan, to be handed to state revenue, reported Russian news agency TASS.

"Discs and laptops confiscated from the convicted woman should be transferred to the [Russian security and intelligence service] FSB for safekeeping," reported TASS, citing the court.

Tsurkan was detained in June 2018. She has denied wrongdoing and her defense intend to file a complaint against the verdict.

Inter ROA Company
Inter RAO is a Russian energy holding companyImage: imago stock&people

What did the former executive allegedly do?

Tsurkan was found guilty under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code, for espionage.Some of the case details are not publicly known and are classified due to the nature of the allegations.

She said in an interview with the RBC media holding that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) had accused her of being recruited by the Moldovan intelligence service in 2004.

At the end of April 2015 in Moscow, she received a classified electronic "draft document from the Ministry of Energy on certain aspects of the actions of Russian energy companies." She allegedly no later than September 29, 2015 handed this document over to the Moldovan secret service, TASS reported.

The information concerned Russian electricity supplies to Ukraine,TASS added.

Map showing Moldova

Claims are fabricated, says defense

"We will definitely file a complaint against the verdict, as we believe that she is not guilty," defense lawyer Ivan Pavlov said.

The defense claim that the documents forming the basis of charges against Tsurkan were fabricated.

Tsurkan maintains that she was targeted to remove her from her top position with the energy holding company.

The 15-year sentence was three years less than the 18 years the prosecution had asked for.

kmm/rt (Reuters, TASS)