Two Britons held in Ukraine charged with ‘mercenary activities’ – as Foreign Office ‘condemns exploitation’

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Two British men detained by Kremlin forces in separatist-held eastern Ukraine have been charged with “mercenary activities”, according to Russian state media.

Dylan Healy, 22, and Andrew Hill, 35, were both reported to have been captured in April.

Mr Healy, from Cambridgeshire, was working for British non-profit organisation Presidium Network when he was seized at a checkpoint south of the city of Zaporizhzhia, south-eastern Ukraine.

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He was taken alongside another British national, Paul Urey, 45, who has been described as a family man with children.

Mr Hill, a military volunteer, was filmed with a bandaged left arm and a makeshift dressing on his head in footage aired in April.

Mr Healy and Mr Hill have reportedly refused to cooperate after being charged, officials in Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said, according to TASS news agency.

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A DPR source told TASS: “Criminal cases have been initiated and charges were presented for (mercenarism) against British citizens Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, currently in detention in DPR.

“Investigation operation are underway as the investigators look for evidence of the crimes, committed by the British, because they do not want to testify and refuse to cooperate on their criminal cases.”

A video broadcast on Russian television in April featured a man speaking in an English accent who appeared to give his name as Andrew Hill from Plymouth.

Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin in Ukraine
Image:
Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin in Ukraine

According to a pro-Kremlin website, Mr Healy and Mr Hill will face the same mercenary charges as British military volunteers, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner.

Mr Aslin, 28, from Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire, were sentenced to death at a DPR court in June.

Aiden Aslin (L) and Shaun Pinner are sentenced
Image:
Aiden Aslin (L) and Shaun Pinner are sentenced

But on Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) intervened in Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner’s case.

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The Strasbourg-based court warned Moscow it should ensure the death penalty is not carried out.

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner have been living in Ukraine since 2018 and maintain they were legitimately serving with the country’s military – meaning they should be entitled to protections given to prisoners of war.

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