March 13, 2015
Published November 24, 2014
This report was written by a non-state organization ‘The Foundation for
the Study of Democracy’ (headed by M. Grigoriev) and the Russian
Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy
(presided by S. Ordzhonikidze) with the assistance of V. Dzhabarov, S.
Mamedov, I. Morozov, S. Markov and other members of the Committee
for Public Support of the Residents of South-Eastern Ukraine. For the
purposes of investigating specific cases of torture, inhuman or degrading
treatment, experts of the Foundation interviewed the ex-prisoners released
by the Ukrainian side, in some cases five or ten minutes after the exchange.
The report written by the Foundation includes the results of interviews
with over 100 prisoners released by the Ukrainian side. Experts of the
Foundation conducted the interviews in the period from 25 August to 4
It should also be noted that, according to those interviewed, the
Ukrainian side releases only those prisoners who are in relatively
satisfactory physical condition. Thus, one may conclude that the situation
in Ukraine regarding torture is more serious than the one described in this
1 The majority of the interviewees are still afraid of possible punitive and unlawful measures
by the Ukrainian side against their families, most of their names in this report have been
changed. However, as part of legal procedures, a video of each interview has been recorded
and personal data – first and second names, age, and place of residence – collected.
As the European Court of Human Rights opined, the Convention on
Human Rights prohibits in absolute terms torture, irrespective of other
circumstances. Moreover, it is assumed in the law of the European Union
that ‘the State is responsible for the actions of all of its agencies, such as the
police, security forces, other law enforcement officials, and any other State
bodies who hold the individual under their control, whether they act under
orders, or on their own accord.’ Unlike other clauses of the Convention
related to rights, Article 3 makes no provision for derogation (reservations)
in the event of a war or other emergency threatening national security.
Article 15 paragraph 2 explicitly states that there can be no derogation
from Article 3 within the Convention.
The information collected by the Foundation for Democracy
Studies gives grounds to believe that the Ukrainian armed forces, the
National Guard and other military units of the Ministry of the Interior of
Ukraine, as well as the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) systematically
and on purpose violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human
Rights that reads, ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.’
The extent to which torture is being used and the fact that this is
done systematically prove that torture is an intentional strategy of the said
institutions, authorized by their leadership.
Commenting on their practice of committing torture, Liliya
Rodionova, deputy head of the Committee for Refugees and Prisoners
of War (Donetsk), who is personally engaged in the exchange of
prisoners, says the following about the prisoners that the Ukrainian side
“Almost everyone released comes back with their ribs and legs
broken and teeth ripped out. There is not a single person with no marks of
beating. Treatment does not begin until right before the exchange. There
is a guy with eight gunshot wounds. Even at the hospital, he was beaten.
They stuck fingers in his wounds. They use pliers to rip out teeth and beat right in the wounds. Many come back with fractured skulls. One of the
torture tools is an awl that they use for stabbing prisoners. Lately, they
have been seizing ordinary people, not members of the self-defence forces.
They use gunpowder and electroshock to torture people, they brand them.
Some were thrown into a pit with dead bodies, crushed with a shovel
bucket, had a smouldering iron stuck in their mouth. People were kept
in iron containers with no source of oxygen. The torture techniques are
sophisticated and brutal, they leave the victims maimed.
Those in need of medical treatment, even with diabetes, receive no
medical assistance. Prisoners from our side can be told by the color of their
skin. It is greyish. Each time an exchange is to take place, we draw up a list
of acute patients, but the other side won’t release them.”
Simon Verdian, a
volunteer helping the Committee, who was himself released in September
2014, says, ‘I know of cases when prisoners had gunpowder spread over
their genitals, were branded with hot iron, executed by shooting in front of
other prisoners, sent to a mine field, crashed with shovel buckets into the
ground and left in a pit of dead bodies for the whole night. Most of their
meals consist of bread and water.’
1 «Prohibition of Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment under the
European Convention on Human Rights (Article 3)», Council of Europe, Interights, 2008.
Please read and share the full 49 page PDF report (in English) here:
Part I.Methods and circumstances of torture committed by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces