Trial begins of soldier accused of joining pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine

The trial of a Czech soldier on terrorism charges for joining pro-Russian separatists fighting in Ukraine began at the Regional Court in Pardubice on Tuesday. Erik Eštu testified that he had been in Ukraine to get to know his wife’s country of origin better. He said he had had his photograph taken in a separatist forces uniform and carrying a gun as a souvenir.

He is accused of guarding a trench at the front, carrying out weapons maintenance and guarding the entrance to the living quarters of members of the Republican Guard, one of a number of separatist groups taking part in the war in Donbass.

The soldier denied visiting the front, saying local patrols had prevented him a friend from doing so. The incidents in question took place in 2015, before Mr. Eštu joined the Czech Army, where he is now serving in an airborne battalion.

Author: Ian Willoughby