A gigabyte of leaked emails this week to a top aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin reveal direct political and financial ties with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Putin has consistently denied any connection to the separatists, whether with military or financial support. Fighting has raged in eastern Ukraine for two years, since rebels in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions proclaimed their independence from Ukraine and sought to join Russia. More than 9,600 people have been killed.
A Ukrainian group calling itself CyberHunta hacked into the account of an assistant to presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and uploaded more than 2,000 emails this week. Surkov, although under sanctions for his role in the separatist conflict, traveled this month to Berlin alongside Putin for a summit on Ukraine.
The hacked emails include a June 2014 list of casualties from the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in eastern Ukraine, sent by then-chairman, Denis Pushilin. Another email from Pushilin that same month listed expenses to set up DNR’s Ministry of Information.