Brothers Luzhetsky: “Our own father ratted us to SBU”


Brothers Luzhetsky

August 25, 2015

Translated by Kristina Rus

KR: Someone once said, history is just a collection of biographies. In today’s Ukraine, ‘geopolitics’ is just a collection of family tragedies (thousands more like this one). 

Alexander Chalenko

Interview of Alexander Chalenko from with Ukrainian political prisoners, brothers Luzhetsky, Yaroslav and Dmitry, who already for more than a year are languishing in one of Galician jails — Chortkiv jail N26.

They are accused of all mortal sins, for which the opponents of the Kiev authorities can be blamed today, including for… impeding the lawful activities of the Armed forces of Ukraine and other military formations!

Accusing the people who have never been in the area of the ATO!

The Ukrainian authorities apply unprecedented pressure: they are threatened, starved, threaten families. The only thing that can still save brothers Luzhetsky is if their names will get on the lists of POW exchange between Ukraine and two Novorossia republics (DPR and LPR). 

In order to do the interview, our editors passed the questions to the brothers through their relatives.

— How and why you and your brother were arrested by the SBU? What have you been charged with?

— On July 25, 2014 in one of Ternopol cafes my brother and I held a meeting with two representatives of the Party of Regions. We discussed a military coup and the seizure of power by the junta in Kiev, and also, what was happening at that time in Donbass.

We also remembered in a conversation that we are doing construction work in Moscow and we need builders from Ukraine. We discussed all the conditions of work, sending builders to Russia, as well as compensation for construction work.

Before we could finish our conversation, Spetsnaz raided the cafe and knocked us to the ground. SBU detained us on charges of creating a terrorist organization. A month later we faced new charges on six articles of the criminal code of Ukraine, namely: part 3, article 109; part 2, article 110; part 1, article 111; part 1, article 258-3; part 2, article 258-4; part 3 article 258-5.

— By the way, why did you first go to Moscow, and then decided to return to Galicia?

— When the power in Ukraine was seized by the junta and the Bandera nationalists, we were under the gun because we acted in support of the Anti-Maidan, and we were against the ATO, as we believe that if Western Ukraine can advocate for European integration, people from the South-East of Ukraine are also entitled to their choice. They have the right to live the way they want to.

We have begun to receive threats from representatives of the “Right Sector”. Under the threat of murder, half of our business has been re-registered to the righties [the Right Sector]. Every day our presence in Ukraine was exacerbated by the possibility of reprisals against us.

In connection with these grim factors in short order we were forced to urgently leave the territory of already not peaceful Ukraine. Decided to fly to the capital of a brotherly state, to Moscow. In three months we were able to settle down. We realized that we need to take family to Moscow  — wives with small children, as it was dangerous for them to remain in Ukraine. Without our consent the wives could not take the children out of Ukraine. Got the plane tickets, went for three days to Ukraine, in order to have time to do all the paperwork for the departure of children from the territory of Ukraine. The day before departure to Moscow my brother and I were detained by spetsnaz.

— What were you doing before Euromaidan, during and after the Euromaidan and up to your arrest?

In 2006 my brother and I started a construction business. We had our own business DS “Mega Space”. We expanded our business and opened an office in Lvov. In 2013, when Maidan started in Ukraine which led to a coup, we were in Kiev, where we opened another office of our construction firm.

Because we lived in downtown Kiev, every day we had the opportunity to observe the aggressive people on Maidan and the mayhem that was happening at the time. At that time we were not involved in politics, but in those days understood that it is impossible to allow the sick in the head people that stood on Maidan to seize power, because then it was already clear that if these maidanites come to power, the state will collapse. By all possible means we supported people who stood on the Anti-Maidan, defending their position.

As we had offices in Western Ukraine in Ternopol and Lvov, the “Right sector” and the so-called Maidan Self-Defence, who under pressure forced businessmen to finance the needs of Maidan, came to our office. From us they received a “No”. Categorical. Because we did not support the coup. They pressured us more.

One of our Ternopol friends, being in Kiev, decided to come to visit us and discuss some issues. Along with him came a few people in face masks and with bats. The apartment in which we lived in Kiev, was destroyed, we were beaten up too. It was a ‘warning’ from the “Right sector”. Also that evening one of our cars was damaged, which was near the house.

When our coward President fled and the maidanites came to power, we were pressured, our business and families threatened. All, that has been achieved in the past 8 years, collapsed. The situation continued to worsen. But we were not used to submitting to someone and changing our opinion. You have to live with your own head and not believe everything you hear on zombie-TV. 

As I said before, in connection with the persecution, to save our life, we were forced to leave Ukraine.

Upon arrival in Moscow it was not easy, but after a while we went back to what we were doing in Ukraine — construction. Also having connection with various public organizations, we helped refugees from Donbass, who were at that time in Moscow, helping with work and housing, as well as helped in collecting aid for the people in the South-East of Ukraine.

— Tell us about the conditions of your detention in prison? How are you treated? Are you beaten or humiliated? How is your health?

— From the very first day in the prison we were put in solitary confinement. We are taken solo to meetings. The conditions are nightmarish. The cells are damp. Besides, in desperate need of repair. Thank God it’s summer and it’s not so cold. In the winter the cell is 15 degrees, and it’s blowing from the holes in windows, had to stay dressed for days, even when we went to bed, so as not to catch a cold.

The food is even worse, impossible to eat this food. Soup from rotten potatoes and cabbage, rotten fish. Poor quality food constantly causes nausea. My gastritis also escalated, which can lead to ulcers. Lost appetite and constantly dizzy from malnutrition, no energy to walk. Packages are often not allowed. During transport, we are treated with special cruelty.

There were threats of execution from the national guard, who escorts us to the courts. During the frisks that are held once a month for all, and every week for us, guards try to plant something, to have a reason to put you in solitary confinement — and for a long time.

In the beginning, when we were just brought into custody, the administration staff was trying to humiliate us. The first two weeks we couldn’t take a shower, they did not turn off the light in the cell, forcing to remain under daylight for 24 hours. During the first two months relatives were not allowed to leave packages, so for two months we stayed in what we were detained in, without a chance to change clothes and wash with soap and water.

— What is going on now with your family? What pressure are they under? How does the Galician society treat them because their relatives are “enemies of the people”?

– Our relatives are only our families, wives and children. Our mom lives in Kirovograd, and she is indifferent to us, it’s not even worth to talk about it.

Dad has long been pressed, and as we recently learned, he ratted us to the SBU. For families it’s very hard. There is a constant pressure from relatives, friends, neighbors.

After the detention there were threats from the investigator, and repeated threats of physical violence coming from the Internet. In this light, my wife changed the names of all online accounts and was forced to delete everything that connected her to me.

Today there is pressure from the prosecution. Inside the walls of the court, the pressure sometimes comes from the activists of the “Right sector” who come to court to all meetings, so we are not accidentally released.

— What are your chances of getting on the exchange lists of prisoners of war?

— Honestly, we don’t know the answer to this question, because it’s not up to us. I can only say one thing, that we did not admit the guilt. We did not give testimony, using the 17th and 18th articles of the criminal procedure code of Ukraine. We are very hopeful that we will get to an exchange list, because there is no other option for release. As the prosecutor said to my wife, we will not be let go for nothing.

— If the trial has started, how is it going?

– Yes the trial began in October 2014. In the year that we are in custody, the trial has not moved a single step. Every month we hold a court session, and they last a maximum of 15 minutes. 

Witnesses do not appear for questioning. Due to this, the court sessions are postponed. The panel of judges and the prosecutor proceed from public opinion and the high profile of the case. The case is fabricated from the beginning and has no evidence base.

Nobody looks at the fact that my brother and I have little children, and we are the only breadwinners of the families. We are just tested for our patience. Well, nobody doubts that now in Ukraine there is no freedom of speech. And if someone is telling the truth and criticizes the government, it tries to shut his mouth. This is possible either by killing a person, or by locking him in prison. In our case they went for a second option. During the year we have become stronger in spirit and do not plan to give up.

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