Russian serviceman captured in Ukraine wants to sue Ministry of Defence

One of the two Russian soldiers detained in Ukraine's Luhansk region last month has not ruled out taking suing the Russian Ministry of Defence, after it claimed he no longer worked for the military after he had been captured, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports.

Sergeant Alexander Alexandrov was captured along with his colleague Evgeny Eroveev by Kiev loyal fighters last month during a battle near the Luhansk town of Shastya. They have since been turned over to the Ukrainian authorities and have been recovering in hospital since. However, they both face allegations of terrorism - the charge levelled to anyone who fights alongside eastern separatists in Ukraine.

Russia maintained its party line that it has not sent to troops to Ukraine when Kiev announced the capture of the two servicemen, but as the case became more widely circulated, Russian state TV Rossiya24 interviewed Alexandrov's wife who claimed he had indeed served in the army, although she said he had left in December.

Subsequently the Russian Ministry of Defence repeated this, as spokesman Igor Konashenkov told state news agency Itar-Tass that the two men had received military training but were not currently acting servicemen of Russia's armed forces. Ukraine's Security Services (SBU) denied reports that Alexandrov being dismissed before his capture.

In an interview published today in Novaya Gazeta, Alexandrov reiterated that he was an acting servicemen and that he considers himself a prisoner of war and not a terrorist. Asked if he would object to Russian lawyers filing a civil case against the Ministry of Defence for firing him illegally, Alexandrov said "I would not object."

"I do not think that it will be very laborious to prove that I am an active serviceman. You can send a request for them to deliver the documents that show that," he added.

In the interview Alexandrov attacks Russian news coverage of the Ukraine crisis and the lack of focus on Russian soldiers' sacrifices in the Russian state press.

"Now I am on the other side of the conflict and I understand that not all is how it is shown in the main [Russian] channels, it is not even close. There are no reprisals for Russian speakers, just normal people," he said.

"The Ukrainian side treats its dead and it's captured [officers] with dignity. Back home we are not even mentioned on the news. I don't know, of course it is possible, that [in Russia] they consider me a traitor but I did not betrayed my country. I have committed no crimes, except for illegally crossing the border. "

Alexandrov noted that he wants his lawyer to persuade Ukraine's prosecution to switch the allegations of terrorism which he is accused of, to a charge which acknowledges he is in Ukraine as military personnel.

"I did not act as a terrorist, I was following orders. I am an acting serviceman until my contract has not officially expired," he added.