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Kyiv seeks extradition of suspected Russian mercenaries arrested in Belarus

Ukraine’s Attorney General’s Office has appealed to its Belarusian counterpart with a request to extradite the Russian nationals arrested in Belarus as suspected mercenaries from the “Wagner” private military company (PMC). The Ukrainian Attorney General’s Office shared this information in a Facebook post.

The alleged Russian mercenaries were arrested in Belarus on July 29. Kyiv has requested that 28 of the 33 detainees be extradited to Ukraine. Nine of the suspected mercenaries are in possession of Ukrainian citizenship, the country’s Attorney General’s Office says. 

A Ukrainian court has already arrested the 28 suspected mercenaries in absentia, as part of a criminal case over their alleged participation “in the hostilities on the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions,” as part of the “terrorist organizations” known as the “Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.” 

According to Minsk, the 33 alleged Russian mercenaries came to Belarus to orchestrate riots on behalf of jailed opposition blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky (Siarhei Tsikhanouski) and opposition politician Nikolai Statkevich (Mikola Statkevich). 

Belarusian officials charged the arrested Russian nationals with “planning terrorist acts.” The country’s State Security Council also claimed that there are 200 foreign mercenaries operating in Belarus, in total.