Ukraine Cracks Down on Group That Racketeered Families of Fallen Soldiers

Published: 13 February 2024

Ukraine Extortion SBUUkraine's Security Service officers arrest extortion suspect. (Photo: Security Service of Ukraine, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

The Security Service (SBU) of Ukraine arrested three suspects who were caught red-handed while attempting to extort money from the widow of a fallen soldier.

The country is fighting a new wave of Russian invasion for two years now, losing soldiers on the front line every day. The families of the fallen defenders are entitled to state aid but have also become the target of criminals.

According to the statement, the police have dismantled the organization that instilled fear and sought to intimidate the inhabitants of the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.

Evidence indicates that after discovering she had received financial assistance from the state, the suspects demanded US$10,000 from the wife of one of the fallen Ukrainian soldiers, claiming that her husband owed them the money.

To intimidate the woman, the extortionists persistently harassed her and subjected her to psychological pressure, even resorting to threats of torturing her and killing her along with her minor child if she refused to pay, according to the SBU.

All three suspects were already known to law enforcement, having been involved in serious crimes such as robbery for which they had served sentences but then aimed to extend their criminal actions in the city and other areas of the Zaporizhia region by racketeering beneficiaries of state aid.

According to the statement, the suspects could be charged under martial law conditions with “extortion committed by an organized group,” and if found guilty, they could face up to 12 years in prison.