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Spain briefly detains pro-Russian Ukrainian blogger accused of treason

A Ukrainian flag flies in front of the Russian embassy in Madrid, Spain, April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera

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MADRID, May 5 (Reuters) – A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered the release of a pro-Russian Ukrainian blogger detained a day earlier on an international arrest warrant for alleged treason, but banned him from leaving the country in awaiting an extradition hearing.

Spain’s High Court said in a statement that Judge Jose Luis Calama ruled Anatoliy Shariy, an aspiring politician and outspoken critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his pro-Western government, must appear in the nearest court twice per month and return his passport.

The judge said there was not enough reason to keep him in custody, given that he had taken root in Spain.

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A police source said the 43-year-old was detained in the coastal city of Tarragona in Catalonia.

Earlier, Ukraine’s SBU security service said in a statement that Shariy was arrested on Wednesday in a coordinated operation between Ukrainian authorities and Spanish police on suspicion of committing treason and the crime of “violating equal rights of citizens” because of race, nationality or other attributes. .

“SBU investigators consider that Shariy carried out illegal activities detrimental to the national security of Ukraine in the field of information. There are reasons to believe that Anatoliy Shariy acted on the orders of foreign bodies” , did he declare.

Ukraine declared Shariy suspicious a year before the Russian invasion of its neighbor on February 24.

After his investigative reports with frequent criticism of Ukrainian authorities led to run-ins with the law and following an assassination attempt, Shariy has lived in voluntary exile in the European Union since 2012: first in Lithuania, then in the Netherlands and Spain. .

Shariy has taken a particularly pro-Russian stance since Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan uprising and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

A frequent guest on Russian state TV channels, he has supported the Kremlin narrative in his videos that Ukraine is a Western “colony” dominated by Russia-hating neo-Nazis, justifying the invasion and blaming the media Ukrainians and Zelenskiy to manipulate public opinion in the West.

In 2019, he registered a Ukrainian political party, called The Party of Shariy, which won a few dozen seats in several regional assemblies.

Ukraine’s National Security Council suspended the party, along with several others linked to Russia, in March after the Russian invasion.

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Reporting by Belen Carreno and Andrei Khalip; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson

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