Ukrainian blogger accused of being pro-Putin arrested in Spain for ‘high treason’
- Anatoly Shariy, 43, arrested in Spain for “high treason” against Ukraine
- Shariy is accused of spreading pro-Russian propaganda during the 2014 uprising
- Ukrainian security services say he also incited ethnic violence via social media
- Shariy has previously denied the charges, saying he is the victim of a political persecution
A Ukrainian blogger accused of being a pro-Putin propagandist was arrested today in Spain for “high treason”.
Anatoly Shariy, 43 and from Kyiv, was arrested on Thursday under an international arrest warrant issued by the Ukrainian internal security service SBU.
It’s unclear exactly where Shariy was found, but he’s been living in a town somewhere on Spain’s Catalan coast since 2016 while seeking political asylum.
Anatoly Shariy (pictured right, with his wife Olga) was arrested in Spain on a Ukrainian warrant accusing him of ‘high treason’
Shariy, a former investigative journalist, had claimed he was targeted by neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine because of his work exposing state corruption.
Critics say that since Russia last invaded Ukraine in 2014, he has become a pro-Russian spokesman and apologist for Putin – accusations he denies.
Shariy grew up in Ukraine and in 2005 began working as a journalist, publishing a series of investigations between 2008 and 2011 which alleged links between the government and organized crime.
In 2012 he fled to Lithuania where he was granted a five-year residency on the grounds that he was being persecuted for his journalistic work.
Putin first invaded Ukraine in 2014 after overthrowing pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in the Euromaidan revolution.
At the time, Russia took control of Crimea and annexed it, then began arming pro-Moscow rebels in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine.
Shariy’s critics who spoke to La Vanguardia and Catalan News said that after the invasion he became “100% pro-Putin” and a “pro-Russia propagandist”.
Taras Atamanchuk, a Ukrainian also living in Catalonia, said Shariy had published maps of Ukraine without Crimea and described Yanukovych’s ouster as a “coup”.
Shariy has continued her journalistic activities from abroad, running YouTube and Telegram channels that have attracted over a million subscribers.
He used them to rail against Ukraine’s post-revolutionary governments and what he considered “propaganda” published by the country’s media.
Ukraine says Shariy is a pro-Russian propagandist who has worked with foreign agents against the state since Putin’s last invasion of his country in 2014
The SBU claims that Shariy “carried out illegal activities detrimental to the national security of Ukraine” and that there are “reasons to believe that Anatoly Shariy acted on behalf of foreign structures”.
A warrant for his arrest on two counts – treason and incitement to ethnic hatred – was issued in May last year.
At the time, Shariy’s lawyers said it was a “clear case of political persecution” and alleged he would be killed if he returned to his home country.
The SBU said Shariy’s arrest on Thursday is “another proof that every traitor to Ukraine will receive deserved punishment sooner or later.”
Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine for the second time on February 24 in what he called a “special military operation” which appears to have been an attempt to overthrow the government and install a pro- Moscow.
Troops were sent expecting to face light resistance in a conflict that only lasted a few days, but instead faced a fierce defense that has now dragged the war into its third month.
Pushed back from the outskirts of kyiv, Putin has now massed his forces in the eastern Donbass region in hopes of capturing it while surrounding Ukrainian forces dug into the old frontline and forcing them to surrender.
Whether or not he can win the battle, the war has proven far more costly in terms of troops and damage to the Russian economy than Putin was counting on.
Ukraine says it has killed nearly 25,000 Russian troops while the UK says around a fifth of the country’s total armed forces are now “combat ineffective” and will take years to recover.
Meanwhile, the Russian economy has taken a beating, dozens of Western companies have quit while tough sanctions have been imposed.
Europe is currently discussing an embargo on Russian oil and, possibly, gas – a decision almost unthinkable before the start of the war and which will deprive Russia of billions of dollars in revenue each year.