Judge who sentenced Brits to death in Ukraine 'in serious condition in hospital after assassination attempt'

5 November 2022, 15:44 | Updated: 5 November 2022, 15:49

Alexander Nikulin is 'fighting for his life' after being hit by a bullet. He sentenced two Brits to death in June but they were later freed
Alexander Nikulin is 'fighting for his life' after being hit by a bullet. He sentenced two Brits to death in June but they were later freed. Picture: Social Media/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A Russian judge who sentenced two Brits to death in Ukraine is in critical condition in hospital after an apparent assassination attempt.

Puppet judge Alexander Nikulin was shot in Vuhlehirsk, in the Russian controlled region of Donetsk last night.

Police are still hunting his ‘attackers,’ Russian state news said.

“There was attempt with the use of firearms on a judge of the Supreme Court of the Donetsk Republic Alexander Nikulin,” Denis Pushilin, the region’s self-declared leader said on Telegram.

Brits Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were convicted by Nikulin in June of being 'mercenaries' after they left the UK to fight alongside Ukrainian troops, weeks after they were captured by Russian forces during the siege of Mariupol.

Both men were sentenced to death after a three-day trial but were eventually released in September after a deal was brokered by the Saudi Crown prince to free 10 POWs captured while fighting in Ukraine.

Five Brits, two Americans, one Swede, one Croat and a Moroccan were freed and taken to Riyadh before being sent home.

Russian forces continue to pound Ukrainian cities and villages with missiles and drones, inflicting damage on power plants, water supplies and other civilian targets.

Russia has denied that the drones it has used in Ukraine came from Iran, but the Islamic Republic's foreign minister on Saturday for the first time acknowledged supplying Moscow with "a limited number" of drones before the invasion.

Hossein Amirabdollahian claimed, however, that Tehran did not know if its drones were used against Ukraine and stated Iran's commitment to stopping the conflict.

Ukrenergo, the operator of Ukraine's high-voltage transmission lines, said in a statement that scheduled blackouts will take place in the capital and the greater Kyiv region, as well as several regions around it - Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Poltava and Kharkiv.

The outages for "certain groups of consumers" will occur daily "in accordance with a specific schedule drawn up by operators of distribution networks for each region," the statement said. The outages are expected to last for six and more hours each day.

Ukraine has been grappling with power outages and disruption of water supplies since Russia started unleashing massive barrages of missile and drone strikes on the country's energy infrastructure last month.

Moscow has said those came in response to what it alleged were Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, the region that Russia illegally annexed in 2014. Ukraine has denied those allegations.

Meanwhile, Russian shelling of Ukrainian regions continued into the early hours of Saturday.

About 40 shells were fired overnight at the city of Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram. The Russian forces targeted the city and the areas around it. Two fires broke out, and more than a dozen residential and utility buildings, as well as a gas pipeline, were damaged, the official said.

Elsewhere in the region, the Ukrainian forces shot down a drone and another projectile, according to Mr Reznichenko.

In the southern Mykolaiv region, the overnight shelling of rural areas damaged several houses, but did not cause any casualties, Mykolaiv governor Vitali Kim said on Telegram.

The Russian forces also fired missiles at the south-eastern Zaporizhzhia region, which has been illegally annexed by Moscow and large parts of which remain occupied.

According to regional governor Oleksandr Starukh, the attack took place shortly after midnight and damaged buildings of three businesses, as well as a number of cars.

In the eastern Donetsk region, also annexed and partially occupied by Russia, eight cities and villages have been shelled, including Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Porkovsk.

According to Ukraine's presidential office, at least three civilians were killed and eight others were wounded over the past 24 hours by Russian shelling of nine Ukrainian regions, where drones, missiles and heavy artillery were used.

In the Russian-occupied Kherson region, where a Ukrainian counteroffensive is under way, the Russian military continue to abduct local residents, the presidential office said, with the most recent cases taking place over the past 24 hours.