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Gas pipeline explosion in occupied Crimea: Russia blames Ukrainian intelligence and Mejlis

The Russian FSB stated that Ukrainian intelligence and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars were to blame for the explosion on a gas pipeline in occupied Crimea on 23 August. In particular, the representatives of the Service noted that the recently detained Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Nariman Dzhelyalov and brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov had been allegedly involved in this incident, according to the Russian outlet Interfax.

"On August 23, 2021, a gas pipeline section was blown up near the village Perevalne in the Republic of Crimea. In the course of the carried out law enforcement intelligence and investigative activities, it was found that the sabotage had been organized by the territorial subdivision of the Defence Intelligence (DIU) of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in the city of Kherson—by the so-called operational service Tavria assisted by the organization Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people banned in Russia," the message of the department reads.

The FSB believes that the three mentioned men "went to Ukraine, to Kherson, where the DIU officers trained them in explosive work." As the Service points out, Ukraine promised them a reward of $2 thousand for committing "sabotage".

Russian security officials stressed that the explosion was supposedly timed to coincide with the Independence Day of Ukraine. According to them, the said "sabotage" was sanctioned by the Head of the DIU of the Ministry of Defense Kyrylo Budanov,. The agents of the Ukrainian intelligence Riza Yagiaev-Veliulaiev, Maksym Martyniuk, and the Head of the operational service Tavria Viktor Zelinskyi were the organizers.

Context. On September 3—4, Russian security forces abducted Dzhelyalov and four other Crimean Tatars (Aziz Akhtemov, Asan Akhtemov, Shevket Useinov, and Eldar Odamanov). In response to this, the concerned population and family members of the detainees staged a protest outside the FSB building in Simferopol. Law enforcers violently detained about 50 activists.В ответ на это небезразличное населения и

Dzhelyalov's lawyer said that his client had been tortured.

Subsequently, the Russian security forces stated that the persons detained by them had begun to give testimony and admitted their involvement in the incident.

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