29 Dec 2020 12:32

Moscow City Court gives 15-year term to former Inter RAO top manager Tsurkan for espionage

MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) - The Moscow City Court has given a 15-year prison sentence to former Inter RAO top manager Karina Tsurkan after convicting her of spying for Moldova.

"Karina Tsurkan shall be sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. She shall serve her sentence in a standard-security penal colony," according to the Moscow City Court's judgement pronounced on Tuesday.

Since the files of Tsurkan's case are classified and the trial was held in camera, the court made public only the title part and the operative part of its judgement.

Under the Russian law, women cannot be ordered to serve their sentences in high-security penitentiaries. At the same time, since the crime committed by Tsurkan was recognized as very grave, the time she spent in pre-trial custody was counted as one day in custody equaling one day in a penitentiary instead of a day and a half.

Tsurkan was found guilty of espionage.

According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), before or on September 29, 2015, Tsurkan disclosed "information about power energy exports from Russia to Ukraine over a certain period of time" to Moldova's Service for Information and Security (SIS).

The prosecutors believe that Tsurkan was a citizen of Moldova until June 2016 and had confidentially cooperated with SIS under the pseudonym Carla from August 16, 2004. Tsurkan allegedly received remuneration for her cooperation with SIS.

Russia's FSB claims that at some point during 2015, Tsurkan learned about a power delivery when preparing a draft document containing information about it at the Energy Ministry's request. She also received some relevant information from unidentified Energy Ministry officials, FSB said.

According to FSB, Tsurkan got that information during a working meeting with Vyacheslav Kravchenko, the then deputy Russian energy minister.

Prosecutors say in the indictment that the position of board member and head of trading at Inter RAO, which Tsurkan took in February 2012, did not imply any access to state secrets in 2013-2018, but Tsurkan, however, had access to state secrets since she was in charge of facilitating exportation and importation of power energy.

Tsurkan pleaded not guilty during the investigation and in the course of the trial. The defense team believes that the evidence presented by the state prosecutor was falsified, while Tsurkan's prosecution could have been initiated by former President of the unrecognized Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic Yevgeny Shevchuk out of revenge. Former Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Kravchenko was also named by Tsurkan among the targets of those who "organized" her prosecution.

As reported earlier, the Moscow City Court ruled in December 2019 to extend Tsurkan's arrest to 21 months. The First Appeal Court of General Jurisdiction ruled in January 2020 to overturn this ruling and released her, at the same time banning her from certain actions as a measure of restraint.

Tsurkan spent 23 days free before the Second Cassation Court subsequently granted a motion by the Prosecutor General's Office to overturn the First Appeal Court's decision and placed Tsurkan back under arrest.