Ukraine detains Kherson official suspected of aiding Russian occupiers

A woman walks past a statue in the central square after Russia's military retreat from Kherson, Ukraine November 21, 2022. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

KYIV, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Ukraine has detained a deputy head of newly liberated Kherson's city council on suspicion of aiding and abetting Russian occupation forces that seized control of the city in March, Ukraine's state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The Kherson official, who was not named in the statement, cooperated with the occupation authorities and helped with the functioning of public services under the Russians, the prosecutor said.

The official, who could not be reached for comment, faces up to 12 years in prison under the allegations if prosecuted and found guilty. The official was in custody, but could post bail, the prosecutor said.

Ukraine proclaimed the liberation of Kherson on Nov. 11 after Russian forces who invaded Ukraine in February pulled out of the city in the south of the country and crossed to the other side of the Dnipro River.

The withdrawal ended more than eight months of Russian occupation of Kherson, which was home to almost 300,000 people before the war, but Russian forces are now frequently shelling the city from across the Dnipro.

Ukraine faces a challenge restoring order in Kherson. Tens of thousands of residents have fled, electricity and basic utilities are unavailable and security forces are hunting for possible collaborators and Russian soldiers in disguise.

Ukraine has legislation criminalising the act of collaboration, but the Kherson city council official is suspected of the slightly different crime of "assisting an aggressor state".

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk; editing by Timothy Heritage

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