Ukrainian 'pro-Putin' blogger arrested in Spain for 'high treason'

Ukrainian blogger accused of being a pro-Putin propagandist is arrested in Spain for ‘high treason’

  • Anatoly Shariy, 43, arrested in Spain on charge of ‘high treason’ against Ukraine 
  • Shariy is accused of disseminating pro-Russian propaganda during 2014 revolt 
  • Ukraine’s security service say he also incited ethnic violence via social media
  • Shariy previously denied charges, saying he is the victim of political persecution

A Ukrainian blogger accused of being a pro-Putin propagandist has been arrested in Spain on charges of ‘high treason’ today.

Anatoly Shariy, 43 and originally from Kyiv, was detained Thursday on an international arrest warrant issued by Ukraine’s SBU domestic security service.

It is not clear where exactly Shariy was found, but he has been living in a town somewhere on Spain’s Catalan coast since 2016 while claiming political asylum.

Anatoly Shariy (pictured right, with wife Olga) has been arrested in Spain on a Ukrainian warrant accusing him of ‘high treason’

Shariy, a former investigative reporter, had claimed he was being targeted by neo-Nazi groups within Ukraine because of his work exposing state corruption.

Critics say that, since Russia last invaded Ukraine in 2014, he has become a pro-Russia mouthpiece and Putin apologist – charges that he denies.

Shariy grew up in Ukraine and in 2005 began working as a journalist, publishing a series of investigations between 2008 and 2011 that alleged links between the government and organised crime.

In 2012 he fled to Lithuania where he was granted a five-year residency on the basis that he was being persecuted for his journalistic work.

Putin first invaded Ukraine in 2014 following the overthrow of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in the Euromaidan revolution.

At the time, Russia seized control of Crimea and annexed it, and then began arming pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Critics of Shariy who spoke to La Vanguardia and Catalan News said that after the invasion, he became ‘pro-Putin 100%’ and a ‘pro-Russia propagandist’.

Taras Atamanchuk, a Ukrainian also living in Catalonia, said Shariy published maps of Ukraine without Crimea and described Yanukovych’s ouster as a ‘coup’.

Shariy continued his journalistic activities from abroad, running YouTube and Telegram channels that garnered more than a million followers.

He used them to rail against Ukraine’s post-revolution governments and what he saw as ‘propaganda’ published by the country’s media.

The SBU says Shariy ‘carried out illegal activities to the detriment of Ukraine’s national security’ and that there is ‘reason to believe that Anatoly Shariy acted on behalf of foreign structures.’

A warrant for his arrest on two charges – treason and incitement to ethnic hatred – was issued in May last year.

At the time, lawyers for Shariy declared it 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 sooner or later receive a deserved punishment.’

Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine for a second time on February 24 in what he termed a ‘special military operation’ which appears to have been an attempt to overthrow the government and install a pro-Moscow puppet.

Troops were sent in expecting to face light resistance in a conflict lasting just days, but were instead met by a dogged defence that has now extended the war into its third month.

Beaten back from the outskirts of Kyiv, Putin has now massed his forces in the eastern Donbas region in the hope 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 proved far costlier in terms of troops and damage to the Russian economy than Putin was banking on.

Ukraine claims to have killed almost 25,000 Russian troops while the UK says around a fifth of the country’s total armed forces is now ‘combat ineffective’ and will take years to reconstitute.

Meanwhile Russia’s economy has taken a battering, with dozens of western companies quitting while tough sanctions have been imposed.

Europe is currently discussing an embargo on Russian oil and, eventually, gas – a move that was almost unthinkable before the war started and will deprive Russia of billions of dollars in revenue each year.

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