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Friday, February 16, 2018

Torture, secret prisons, missing people: as political prisoners in Ukraine

European Parliament group GUE/NGL (European United left/Left-green of the North) appealed to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with an appeal to guarantee the fulfillment of its commitments to respect democracy and human rights. The deputies refer to the 14th report of the UN mission on monitoring human rights in Ukraine, which refers to extensive use of SBU of torture against detainees, illegal arrests and the existence of the five secret prisons established by the Ukrainian government. Violation of human rights in Ukraine after the victory of Maidan has reached a scale which it had never reached when “tyrant” Yanukovych. And all this — in the mysterious silence of patented human rights defenders. Fallen from the hands of the “veterans advocacy banner had to pick up young activists. Like Nadezhda Melnichenko, who now runs a public organization “Odessa human rights group”.

SBU claims that Anastasia Kovalenko was carrying in a handbag a few kilograms of TNT. Photo: TCH.

— Tell us about the work of their group. When and for what purpose was it created?

— Our organization was officially registered in October 2015. But we have been working even before that. We are engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to the families of those killed, injured, arrested. Wearable in jail transfer. In addition to purely humanitarian, our work has a human rights aspect. We are working on helping our Odessa political prisoners, tracking their cases in the courts. One of the main directions of our work is the creation of the single register of political prisoners in Ukraine. That is, our work is not limited only to Odessa. In particular, we redeemed the Kharkiv political prisoners. In the case of the seizure of the Kharkiv regional state administration was arrested a lot of people, and many of them till recently remained in jail. They have been assigned collateral, and in principle could be released almost immediately, but there was no money. We helped to raise money for bail. 11 Kharkiv so we pulled out.

What time is it now in Ukraine of political prisoners?

— Fully reliable information on this account yet. Lists were made, but a sufficiently chaotic way. According to some sources, there are about five hundred, on the other — 3-4 thousand. But evidence to these figures, yet. We started work on a register at the beginning of this year. We have every name documented: case materials, the form of the prisoner. We collect the documentary base for each. Trying to track the movement of his case: how the investigation, as there is a lawsuit. Fix the violation. Unfortunately, for more than two years that have passed since the beginning of all these events in Ukraine, it has not systematically engaged.

Radicals in masks in the courtroom — an indispensable attribute of political processes in Ukraine. Photo: IHTEP.

— What are the criteria you describe the person in the list of political prisoners?

— In the first place we look which articles he shall be prosecuted. If he was an activist, or supporter, or simply sympathetic to anti-Maidan — he clearly relates to us political prisoners. Now in Odessa trials are in progress. Our “Patriotic” organizations they actively and violently react. It is also a criterion. And even if a person is prosecuted for non-political articles, the attention of activists of the “Patriotic” organizations makes one wonder: and whether this case political motive? Then our lawyers working with the case, and we draw conclusions as to whether this man to the status of political prisoners. We have at the moment in the register of about 70 people, whose status is documented.

— It is only in Odessa?

— No, in Ukraine. But the list is constantly updated.

— Do you have any information on the territories of the DNI and the LC?

— With the territories of the DNI and the LC, we have some difficulties. As with those areas that are adjacent to these republics, but are under the control of Ukraine. At the jail, which are located in these areas, we have very little data. But we know that it contains a lot of people. Through his lawyers we tried to send back a questionnaire to fill out, but them back never received.

— Some people with whom I spoke on the subject, argued that the political prisoners at least several hundred…

Yes, some leaders say about 4 thousand. But I always in such cases I propose to show the list. On the website one of those who says so, there is a list in which 83 people.

— Maybe there’s people that nobody knows?

— Of course. There are people who are still missing. Their whereabouts are unknown. There are instances when such missing after a year and a half, two found in a particular prison. Or know that they are in one of the so-called “secret prisons SBU”. At the moment to say for sure how many political prisoners in Ukraine — a hundred or 4 thousand, — it is impossible. Because all this time working on it was not conducted, unfortunately. Lost a lot of time. In Odessa, we have the situation fully under control. From there we learn about the person’s arrest and tracked its fate. With other regions more difficult.

photo: vesti.ru
Court on the events of may 2 in Odessa.

— I wonder what he was doing all this time long been working in Ukraine human rights organizations. Did they systematically work on this issue?

— Unfortunately, were not. Everyone knows that most political prisoners in Ukraine in one way or another were related to the Maidan. And today is, shall we say, unpopular group of citizens. Many of them are prosecuted under articles “terrorism” and “separatism”. Not all human rights activists want to get involved in the story. As far as I know, none of the human rights organization of Ukraine has not made any statement about these people. This applies to foreign human rights organizations. There were some statements about Ruslan Kotsaba, was a measure of the immediate response against Elena Glescinskas by the European court, but these are isolated cases.

Ruslan kotsaba — Ivano-Frankivsk journalist accused of treason for speaking out against mobilization. — M. P.)

— How working in Ukraine, human rights organizations behave to Maidan? Then, too, there were people who were called political prisoners? For example, “Vasilkovsky terrorists” who were accused of preparing terrorist attacks. They were released after “revolution”.

— Now it is very interesting to compare. Those people who today are called “patriots”, then considered radicals and nationalists. When they committed any offence, human rights defenders immediately claimed that they are being persecuted for political reasons. In 2010-2013 we had the explosions that were carried out by nationalists. (For example, in Kiev under the year 2011 blew up the monument to Stalin. The responsibility assumed by the nationalist organization “Trident” name of Stepan Bandera. A criminal case was initiated under article 194 of the criminal code — “Intentional destruction or damage of property by explosion”. — M. P.) They are often qualified as “property damage.” Now, any explosion, if there is a suspicion that it was done by the supporters of Antimiani, is qualified under article “terrorism”, even if no one was hurt. For example, the bombings of volunteer centers in Odessa.

— Is there any evidence that the authorities are covering and protecting the “patriots”?

— We have 2 may have a case “kulikovtsev” where under investigation are 20 people, and the case of Sergei Hadeka, which was shot on the Greek square, and the Prosecutor reasonably suspects that his hands have killed at least 1 people and several were injured. In the first case “kulikovtsev” article 294, part 2 (riots), and five of them still remain in custody. In the second killing at least one person plus the same 294-article I — participation in the riots. And the accused is at large. Hodiak is an activist of the “Right sector” (banned in Russia). That is, we see how the court in one and in the other cases. The conclusions are obvious.

— Which of the issues currently before the courts in Odessa you consider “political”?

— In Odessa at the moment, about 20-30 such cases transferred to the court. The case on 2 may, the Cossacks, who were arrested in 2015, and which allegedly was preparing acts of terrorism and captures of office buildings. There is a group of so-called “demolition”, which is accused of organizing more than a dozen explosions. There is a case Nazlymov Vitaly Afanasievich, who was the coach of the military-Patriotic camp. He is accused that he was preparing an attempt on the activist of the Pro-Ukrainian forces Sergey Gutsalyuk. There is a similar case about preparation of assassination of people’s Deputy Alexey Goncharenko, the Euromaidan activist Mark Gordienko and at the same Gutsalyuk. These few people run from one case to another as victims. The presence in these individuals is also a criterion that allows us to establish that the case is classified as “political”.

photo: facebook.com
Nadezhda Melnichenko.

— If to speak in General about Ukraine, what you might call a high-profile political cases?

— The work of the brothers Luzecky. (Businessmen from Western Ukraine Yaroslav and Dmitry Logicie during the Maidan rejected the militants “Right sector” in sponsor support, support Antimaydan, for that they on trumped-up charges a year and a half sitting in Chortkiv remand prison. And pass them to the SBU… my own father. — M. P.)

The case of Anastasia Kovalenko, who sits in Kiev Lukyanovka jail. She allegedly brought to Kiev in a purse of 2.5 kilograms of TNT. In fact, she was the victim of a planned provocation. Nastya — an apolitical man, a cook by profession, during the fighting, worked in Lugansk in the market. There she met some “Bones”, who apparently was an agent provocateur of the SBU. When she was invited for an interview about a job in Kiev, “Kostya” asked her to bring the bag. With this bag took it. What was in the bag, no one knows, but Nastya began to make GRU recruited as a terrorist. She signed everything that from it demanded, after she was beaten in the investigator’s office, the militants of the “Azov”. This case will likely concocted just for the sake of getting someone new stars on the shoulder straps. And this is not an isolated case. Most of our Odessa Affairs built in one way: there is a man who is driving everyone, organizes everything, and at some point all covers of the SBU. And the organizer in the case does not pass. We have a character who runs from one case to another.

— Full-time provocateur?

— Yes, people really works. Gathering a group, I take it, after a while, he’s out already and implemented in another group. We are all supporters of the Maidan were somehow related to each other. So he is the chain, passing one group after another. We have one such already accurately calculated.

— What measures are applied to prisoners?

— From moral pressure and threats to family physical. People and shockers beat, and the bags on the head to put on, and hung over the buttoned back cuffs, beat feet and sticks. We have written testimonies of the prisoners themselves about it. Some people are locked in prison testimonies of doctors. When people are delivered from SBU in jail, their doctors examine. There are pictures of lawyers who were able to do after you apply to their physical strength. There was a case when one prisoner, activist of the Kulikovo field Shelamova Alexander, brought to clinical death: he was strangled, and when he was unconscious, with a Taser were brought to life. We have Ruslan Dolgoshey, who was arrested along with his 18-year-old son. When he was taken from the room where he was tortured, he saw his son, who was taken to another room where he began to hear his bloodcurdling scream. In Poltava there is a Omelchenko, who, according to the people who know about the abuse lost his mind.

All this happens not in jail. This is happening in the SBU after the arrest and before people get into the detention center. In SBU they may be kept for 72 hours, and during that time happens to them all the worst thing that can happen. As a rule, them all this time, not fed, not allowed to sleep, do not allow lawyers. The investigators take turns being questioned and beaten until they break and do not sign the necessary evidence. Then give them a lawyer and taken to a detention center.

— What are the secret prison of the SBU?

— About whom little is known. It’s not even prison, it’s usually a few cameras that are directly in the SBU. Like jail. The people who get there officially are not registered anywhere. There are people who simply disappeared, vanished. Many of them are citizens of Russia. It is not excluded that they are kept in such prisons. For example, in 2015, disappeared the citizen of the Russian Federation Vladimir Bezobrazov. He was detained near Odessa, was accused that he allegedly asked for volunteers for the war in the Donbass. He was given a suspended sentence and released in the courtroom. As soon as he left the building, he was approached by three unknown men, in front of the lawyer sat in the car and drove away. A month and a half ago, we had information that he was alive and in Kharkov prison SBU. However, when his lawyer made requests to the SBU, they answered that they were not detained and where he is unknown. The same story occurred recently with the citizen of the Russian Federation Sokolov, who was convicted in Mariupol. Outside the court he sat in a black Volkswagen and drove away. His whereabouts is unknown. People who are in these SBU are procedure cleaned. They were either convicted and released, or the charges against them were dropped, it or they in no way blamed, and dragged there simply because they are citizens of the Russian Federation.

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