Russia: Britain asks for help over Donetsk death sentences

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Ambassador of Russia to the United Kingdom Andrei Kelin attends an interview with Reuters in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia's ambassador in London said on Tuesday that Britain had asked for Moscow's help in connection with two British citizens sentenced to death in a Russian-backed separatist region for fighting for Ukraine.

A court in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine this month sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun to death for "mercenary activities".

Their families deny that the trio, who were contracted by the Ukrainian armed forces, are mercenaries. Britain says its citizens were regular soldiers and should be exempt under the Geneva Conventions from prosecution for participation in hostilities.

"There was an approach by the British to us - they sent us a note but the note was so full of such arrogant and didactic expressions that it really didn't produce any desire in us to cooperate in these questions," Ambassador Andrei Kelin told Russia-24 TV.

"They need to approach the DPR - our recommendation remains the same," Kelin said.

Though Russia does not carry out the death penalty, the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, whose independence is recognised only by Moscow, have it on their statute books.

Britain's foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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