16 Jul 2019 17:35

Ukraine working with Italy 'behind scenes' on case of convicted soldier Markiv - member of Zelensky's staff

KYIV. July 16 (Interfax) - The conviction of Ukrainian National Guard member Vitaly Markiv in Italy has become a political affair, and Ukraine is working to make Italy fully aware of its position on the matter, deputy chief of the Ukrainian presidential office Vadym Prystaiko said.

"The state of Ukraine is helping in this court case. Not only are lawyers doing their work. Diplomatic work has been done behind the scenes. Even though the Italian government is not officially involved, we have repeatedly explained to it that we won't allow such treatment of our people. Moreover, this case is becoming political," Prystaiko said at a news briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday.

There are some specifics in this case, particularly Markiv's Italian citizenship, that have affected the court's judgment, he said.

"Judicial cases are quite a sensitive thing," he said.

"We don't want to arm those who would say that the official Ukrainian administration is interfering and putting pressure. We have our consul for this, who is entitled to speak on behalf of the Ukrainian state in court. All other mechanisms have been employed, too," Prystaiko said.

Tension has emerged lately in relations between Ukraine and Italy after an Italian court found Markiv guilty of complicity in the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli in Donbas in 2014.

The court ruled on July 12 to sentence Markiv to 24 years in prison. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the same day that the judgment would be appealed.