Donetsk, Jun 21 - DAN. Ukrainian secret services fake social media pages of Donetsk People’s Republic leaders to recruit DPR residents, the Republic’s State Security Ministry said on Thursday.

“The DPR State Security Ministry exposed new forms and methods of operation of Ukrainian secret services to recruit the Republic’s residents, including DPR servicemen through blackmailing, threatening or cheating them. For example, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) uses fake (social media) pages of the head of the Republic, government bodies and other organisations,” the ministry said.

A married couple, Valeriy Tukhvatullin, 33, and Tatyana Movchan, 42, reported that Tukhvatullin, when he was serving a sentence at a DPR penitentiary in 2016, filed a petition with DPR Head Alexander Zakharchenko on the latter’s Vkontakte page asking him to pardon him.  It turned out that the page had been faked by the SBU. According to the DPR State Security Ministry, SBU agents, on behalf of the DPR head, provided the guarantees to review his appeal, and later tasked him with gathering intelligence on the situation in the Republic as a return favour.

After the first assignment was completed, the SBU agents revealed thesmelves and tried, by blackmailing and threatening the couple, to force it to gather and pass information on DPR military facilities and servicemen. The couple reported compulsion to the DPR State Security Ministry.

“Tukhvatullin and Movchan’s voluntary confession exempts them from criminal prosecution under Article 320 of the DPR’s Criminal Code, which carries the penalty of up to 20 years in prison.The statements to the head of the Republic or DPR government bodies must be sent through the official government websites, the Donbass Post or in person,” the Ministry said warning against the use of social media and unverified Internet pages for official correspondence.*jk