Siberian Court Jails Russian National for 8 Years in High Treason Case


Russian citizen Vladimir Vasilyev was sentenced to eight years in a maximum-security prison for collecting and passing on state secrets to foreign intelligence services, the press service of the Trans-Baikal Regional Court in Siberia said on Thursday, TASS reports.

“Russian citizen Vladimir Vasilyev was convicted by the Regional Court under Article 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code (high treason) for collecting and passing on information that contains state secrets to foreign intelligence services. He was sentenced to eight years in a maximum-security penal colony,” the court’s spokesperson Victoria Mikhailuk said. The sentence has come into force.

She noted that the court also limited the man’s freedom for another year after serving the main sentence.

Vladimir Vasilyev, 52, was detained in the Trans-Baikal Region in August 2019, and was later sent to Moscow for further investigation. A law enforcement source told TASS Vasilyev had pleaded guilty, however, the case against him was considered in a general order.

The criminal case was submitted for consideration on the merits in late November 2020, while the verdict was announced on February 3, 2021.

Such cases on high treason and espionage are considered behind closed doors in Russia. They are classified “secret” and “top secret”, as the publication of such information, including in foreign media, can be detrimental to the country’s interests.

This is the third verdict on high treason in Russian courts over the last two months. This article stipulates a penalty of 12 to 20 years behind bars and a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (about $6,800) or restriction of liberty for up to two years.

Top secret cases

Over the past two years, more than ten people have been detained on high treason charges, including former aide to the Russian President’s envoy to the Ural District Alexander Vorobyov, who was arrested in early July 2019. He is the most senior official prosecuted under this article. In Moscow alone, over the past two years, the Lefortovsky District Court and the Moscow City Court have detained and extended the measure of restraint against about 20 defendants accused of treason and espionage.