1 Jun 2018 15:15

Journalist Vyshinsky says in court is giving up Ukrainian citizenship

KYIV. June 1 (Interfax) - Kyrylo Vyshynsky, editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine, said at a hearing of the Kherson region's court of appeals on Friday that he is giving up his Ukrainian citizenship and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for protection.

"I am addressing President Poroshenko, whom I know personally and with whom I have done several good things. I am saying that I am giving up my Ukrainian citizenship; as of this minute, I consider myself to be a citizen of only the Russian Federation. I am asking President Putin to provide me legal assistance and take measures toward my release," Vyshynsky said in court.

Vyshynsky said he now considers himself to be a citizen of only the Russian Federation. "I am asking President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to take all necessary measures for my prompt release and also for the provision to me of legal protection from the consulate and the embassy," Vyshynsky said.

The journalist said he believes the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) needs the criminal case against him for a hostage exchange. "I believe it's a huge special operation conducted by the SBU to get an object for exchange. If you wanted that, you got it. Leave the people I have worked with alone," he said.

Vyshynsky also said he believes there is no point in contesting his pre-trial restriction. "I understand that there is no point in contesting it. The sentence is ready and the facts that the investigators will be looking for in my work will just be adjusted for it," he said.

He also said he does not regret what he has done. "I understand that it is very difficult to fight in this situation. Unfortunately, I did not have any other options to ease the situation of my loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, who are under serious pressure, than what I did when I said I am giving up my Ukrainian citizenship," Vyshynsky said.

Vyshynsky was detained in Kyiv on May 15 following searches of the central office of RIA Novosti Ukraine and journalists' residences. He was charged with high treason and transferred to Kherson, where the city court arrested him for 60 days without the possibility of bail. More than 40 employees of RIA Novosti Ukraine have been summoned by the SBU for questioning.