Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison for treason.
The guilty conviction was handed down by a Kiev court Thursday having found that Yanukovych had broken the law during the deadly 2014 Ukrainian revolution when he requested Russia’s help in suppressing the protests, Bloomberg reported.
Protests erupted in Ukraine following Kremlin-backed Yanukovych’s last minute rejection in late 2013 of a deal that would have established greater relations between the nation and the European Union.
In February 2014, anti-government protestors toppled the government, forcing Yanukovych to flee Ukraine for Russia, where he is believed to be residing.
His conviction stems from a letter he sent Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting he send Russian troops to suppress the uprising.
“Yanukovych signed and submitted to Russian President Vladimir Putin a request to use Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, thus assisting Russia in conducting undermining activities against Ukraine,” Judge Vladyslav Devyatko said Thursday, Bloomberg reported.
While the protests began peacefully, they quickly turned deadly, resulting in dozens of protesters killed in February 2014 in the country’s capital.
Russia then annexed Crimea from Ukraine during the power vacuum, resulting in conflict that continues to this day.
Yanukovych was sentenced to 13 years in prison, two less than prosecutors requested, for having aiding Russia “in an aggressive war” against Ukraine, Financial Times reported.
He was not present for the 18-month trial.
Yanukovich has repeatedly said he was innocent and his lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.