Without Charge or a Trial: Dozens of Russians Languish in Ukrainian Prisons

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

20th April, 2016


Russians Evgeny Erofeev and Alexander Alexandrov, whom the Kiev court the day before sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment for alleged terrorism, won’t submit an appeal. This was reported by their lawyers. There are dozens of Russians in Ukrainian prisons today, whom the authorities have accused of committing political crimes.

Evgeny Mefedov cut his veins in the courtroom, trying to attract attention. But he is not Ukrainian fire-coordinator Savchenko. And European human rights defenders don’t mind that a Russian citizen is sitting in a Ukrainian prison without a sentence already for two years, cutting his hands, and refusing to eat. And the decision to release him on bail was not executed until now.

On the day when bail was posted, the Odessa prison was surrounded by “Right Sector” activists. The journey home from prison for Evgeny could become the last of his life. Evgeny was warned about this also by the head of the detention center. So he continues to sit under the protection of prison guards in a cell with Antimaidan activists, who on May 2nd, 2014 managed to not burn to death in the House of Trade Unions.

None of those among the supporters of the Maidan who threw Molotov cocktails, was taken to court. Evgeny, working as the taxi driver in Odessa, carried products to Kulikovo field by request.  When it all started, he was brought by the crowd, pressed by nationalists, inside of the House of Trade Unions. He miraculously escaped from a burning building, inhaling carbon monoxide, and was immediately arrested by the police. Kiev then did whatever was needed to prove that there are the Kremlin agents in Odessa. The Russian passport of Evgeny Mefedov proved to be very helpful here.

Resident of Volgograd Oleg Khlyupin was forced to torture and to slander himself. Ukrainian mass media spread around information about the capture of an employee of the Russian special services. It was all lies, because after elementary checking of the alleged contacts in the Russian military office, in reality the numbers are from Volgograd clinic phones. Oleg went to the Luhansk region to pick up his elderly and nearly blind father in Russia, who lived under bombardment.

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The taxi driver carrying Oleg from the border brought him to the location of the neo-Nazi “Tornado” battalion. From here they started to make from him a Russian spy. “Multiple fractures, a broken rib cage, seven ribs,” says Oleg, “a punctured lung… I could have been made to stay there forever, either in prison or killed in a pit.”

Thanks to the efforts of the Russian authorities, said Oleg, he was free. At the same time dozens of Russian citizens remain in Ukrainian prisons.

But how to make come back those who the existence of which the authorities of Ukraine simply deny. Vladimir Bezobrazov two years ago was grabbed and thrown in jail in the resort village near Odessa. He arrived there on vacation with his mother and young son.

He inadvertently said something. In the cafe he advised the waiter who complained about low wages, to go to work in Donetsk. The phrase was overheard by an officer of the Ukrainian border guard service. That evening, recognition in the recruitment of militants for the DPR and LPR was beaten from Vladimir.

Vladimir gave a confession because he was promised otherwise his relatives would be killed. When his relatives left Ukraine, he refused to confess, and received five years probation in prison. But he was never released. The person disappeared. Nobody knew where he was for a long time. The official response of Kiev – they hadn’t released a prisoner named Vladimir Bezobrazov in Ukraine. Finally, they found him, in Kharkov.

“In the center of the city stands the building of the SBU, and in the side path is seven or eight cameras, several of them female. They are taken for a walk once in three months in this hole, where even light is not visible. There were people who were kidnapped and thrown into a secret prison; Some of them had Elizarov apparatus  on their feet, and without medical help they became disabled,” says human rights activist Tatiana Buiko. In this secret prison and Vladimir. This was reported by the people who came from there, who were exchanged with the authorities of Novorossiya. The son has not see his father for 2 years. The boy’s grandmother looks after him.

Why was Vladimir sentenced to probation, languishing in a sort of unofficial, illegal jail? He is not on the lists on the exchange, according to his mother.

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