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Ukraine updates: Russian military transport plane crashes

An Ilyushin Il-76 is a Soviet-era aircraft in Kazakhstan

An Ilyushin Il-76 is a Soviet-era aircraft in Kazakhstan

A Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane crashed on Wednesday in Russia's Belgorod region, the state-run RIA news agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

"On board were 65 captured Ukrainian army servicemen being transported to the Belgorod region for exchange, six crew members and three escorts," RIA quoted the Defence Ministry as saying.

The transport plane was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, according to the AFP news agency.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said everyone onboard the military transport plane had died in the crash.

The Kremlin said it would "look into" the incident.

The Il-76 military transport aircraft is designed to carry troops, cargo and military equipment. It typically has a five-person crew and can carry up to 90 passengers.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, January 24:

Russian Duma approves property confiscation for war critics

Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has passed the first stage of a bill that will allow the state to seize the property of people convicted of "discrediting" or spreading "false information" about the Russian army.

The measure could notably be used to confiscate property from people who have left the country and have criticized Russia's war in Ukraine, but who rely on rent revenue from apartments in Russia.

The bill has passed in the first of three required readings by 395 votes to 3.

"Discrediting" the armed forces — which in Russia can mean referring to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine as an invasion rather than as a "special military operation" — is already punishable with a lengthy jail term under laws introduced in March 2022.

Russian plane carrying Ukrainian POWs crashes

A Russian military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war on their way for a prisoner exchange has crashed over Russia's Belgorod region, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said.

According to the TASS state news agency, there were also six Russian crew members and three escorts on board the Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, which occurred around 11 a.m. Moscow time (0800 UTC).

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said everyone onboard the military transport plane had died in the crash.

A special military commission was on the way to the crash site near the border with Ukraine, the ministry said.

There was no immediate official reaction from Ukraine.

Ukrainian media, however, cited military sources as saying that Ukrainian forces downed the plane and that it was transporting missiles.

The Kremlin said in response to a reporter's question that it was looking into the situation.

The Belgorod region has come under frequent attack from Ukraine in recent months.

tj/sms (AP, AFP, DPA, Reuters)