Ukrainian authorities have cited the acceptance of humanitarian aid from Russia as one of the grounds to charge the mayor of a town 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 mayor under the “occupation regime” and accepted humanitarian aid from Russian troops, the prosecutors said.
At a town council meeting that day, the mayor championed “loyalty to both the occupation troops and the Russian Federation in general,” the prosecutor said. Later he “convened a meeting of local citizens and told them the Russian military would be distributing humanitarian aid and also 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 the Izyum county, about 90km southeast of Kharkov. It came under the control of Russian troops in late March.