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Possible Slovak citizen detained

UKRAINIAN soldiers detained an alleged Slovak, the first EU citizen, for participating with pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine on August 19. The man carried a passport showing Slovak citizenship and residence in the town of Banská Bystrica. Yet, a former soldier of the Slovak army and a resident of Banská Bystrica with the same name says his identity may have been stolen.

UKRAINIAN soldiers detained an alleged Slovak, the first EU citizen, for participating with pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine on August 19. The man carried a passport showing Slovak citizenship and residence in the town of Banská Bystrica. Yet, a former soldier of the Slovak army and a resident of Banská Bystrica with the same name says his identity may have been stolen.

“A citizen of the European Union of Serbian origin who has Slovak citizenship and is an inhabitant of Banská Bystrica was detained near the locomotive depot in Ilovaysk,” Anton Geraschenko, the Ukrainian interior minister’s adviser said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. He added that he had a Slovak passport bearing the name Miroslav Roháč and a stamp confirming that he crossed the Ukrainian border at the international airport Zhulyany on July 3, 2014.

The Slovak Foreign Ministry approached Ukrainian officials with questions about the soldier’s identity, but has yet to receive a response, Peter Susko, the ministry’s spokesperson, told TASR on August 20, adding that he is unable to confirm whether the detained man is Slovak. If he is, the man could face charges for serving in a foreign army, which is a criminal act.

Geraschenko published the information on his Facebook profile after talks with the head of the Donbas battalion, Semion Semenchek. Geraschenko added that this was the first time an EU-member state’s citizen was detained fighting on the side of the rebels, as proven by official documents. According to him, the soldier did not come to fight in Ukraine as a mercenary but as a volunteer.

However, Miroslav Roháč of Banská Bystrica, a former soldier of the Slovak army, is at home and has never been to Ukraine, he claimed for TASR, adding that he has a passport at home, though it has been expired for more than two years.

Roháč added for TASR that his identity might have been stolen and that he has no explanation for the error, save for a forged passport and a stolen identity.

Geraschenko has failed to provide more details about the detainee.

“After the captive is transported to Mariupol [city], he will be subject to interrogation,” Geraschenko said, as quoted by the Pravda daily. “No one will torture him or beat him. Everything will be in line with the law and international conventions.”

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