Kiev charges Balakleya mayor with treason for accepting Russian aid

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Kiev charges Balakleya mayor with treason for accepting Russian aid

Kiev charges Balakleya mayor with treason for accepting Russian occupation and humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian authorities have cited the acceptance of humanitarian aid from Russia as one of the reasons to charge the mayor of a city in Kharkov Region with treason on Friday. Ivan Stolbovoy, the mayor of Balakleya, is accused of urging the city council to cooperate with Russian troops and announcing that they would be distributing food.

The office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine charged Stolbovoy with treason, alleging that he chose to side with the enemy when the Russian military took control of Balakleya on March 28. He agreed to continue as a mayor under the occupation regime and accept humanitarian aid from Russian troops, the prosecutors said.

The prosecutor said that at a town council meeting, the mayor championed loyalty to both the Russian Federation and the occupation troops. He convened a meeting of local citizens and told them that the Russian military would be distributing humanitarian aid and that negotiations were underway with the occupiers to re-establish public utilities in the city.

Balakleya is a town of some 25,000 residents in Izyum County, about 90 km southeast of Kharkov. It came under the control of Russian troops in late March.

Russian troops captured the 65th Arsenal of the Ukrainian military's largest ammunition depot in all of Ukraine during the recent fighting near the town, designed to hold at least 150,000 tons of supplies. The Russian media correspondents reported on Friday that much of it was left behind.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to take the two republics by force.