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  • Rights Prize Goes to Oleg Sentsov, a Russian Prisoner, in a Rebuke to Putin
    NY TIMES By Andrew E. Kramer Oct. 25, 2018

    https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018...y=90&auto=webp
    The imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg G. Sentsov at the hospital in Labytnangi, Yamalo-Nenets region, Russia.CreditCreditRussian Federal Penitentiary Service

    MOSCOW The European Parliament on Thursday awarded a prestigious human rights prize to a Ukrainian prisoner serving a 20-year term in a penal colony in Siberia, drawing renewed attention to political detainees in the far-flung prison system once known as the gulag.

    The award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, is an embarrassment for the Russian government but also elevates the prominence of the prisoner, Oleg G. Sentsov, raising his value in a possible prisoner exchange.

    The Russian authorities detained Mr. Sentsov, a movie director, in Crimea in 2014, soon after the Russian military seized the peninsula. He was accused of plotting to blow up bridges, power lines and a statue of Lenin.

    Mr. Sentsov denies plotting violent actions, but openly admits opposing Russias annexation of Crimea. He went on a hunger strike over the summer and was kept alive for 145 days by medical intervention.

    The European award, named for the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei D. Sakharov, is granted annually to individuals or organizations who fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Mr. Sentsov joined rights icons like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai in receiving the prize, which has been awarded since 1988.

    Mr. Sakharov, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, nominated the first laureate, Anatoly Marchenko, a dissident who won the award posthumously after dying during a hunger strike in a Soviet prison two years earlier.

    The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said Mr. Sentsov had been chosen for courage and determination in his life-threatening hunger strike that made him a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world.

    The prize also shines a light on the politics of detainees in the Ukraine crisis. The authorities in Moscow justified Russias annexation of Crimea on the basis of a referendum conducted in the euphoric aftermath of Russias stealthy invasion of the peninsula. A flurry of arrests followed, cementing Russian rule and making clear that lingering pro-Ukrainian views would be seen as sedition.

    The detainees also became bargaining chips. Since the annexation and Russias military intervention in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine has exchanged hundreds of prisoners with Russia and pro-Russian separatists. Supporters of Mr. Sentsov have suggested trading him for a Russian state news agency journalist arrested in Ukraine for treason.

    The unacknowledged Russian military invasion exposed Russian soldiers to capture, arguably without the protections of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war, meaning they could be subjected to Ukrainian criminal prosecution if not traded.


    In 2016, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia exchanged another high-profile Ukrainian prisoner, Lt. Nadiya V. Savchenko, whose profile was raised in detention by her absentee election to the Ukrainian Parliament, for two captured officers of the Russian military intelligence service known as the G.R.U.

    The European Parliament, in announcing Mr. Sentsovs award, said Russia was holding about 70 Ukrainians arrested in Crimea and sentenced to long prison terms. The European group said they are political prisoners.

    Ukraines foreign minister, Pavlo A. Klimkin, welcomed the award for Mr. Sentsov and suggested it would harm Russias standing in the world by drawing attention to political prisoners, as Mr. Sakharovs forced exile out Moscow did for the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Mr. Sentsov, he wrote on Twitter, will become for Russia what Sakharov became for the USSR.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/w...er=rss&emc=rss

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    • Victims of political repression
      KHPG.ORG Halya Coynash 31.10.2018 |
      Huge increase in number of political prisoners in Russia & occupied Crimea

      http://khpg.org/files/photos/1540956008.png

      Placards above from top left clockwise explaining how the people in the photo became political prisoners. Denis Bakholdin for protesting against Russias aggression against Ukraine; Oyub Titiev for defending human rights in Chechnya from Ramzan Kadyrov; Andriy Kolomiyets for taking part, as a Ukrainian, in Ukraines Euromaidan; Yuri Dmitriev, for restoring the names of executed labour camp prisoners; the Novoye Velichiye Case for discussing political issues on social media chats.

      Russias renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has once again marked Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression on 30 October by publishing new lists of political prisoners currently held in Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea. There has been a massive increase, from 117 a year ago to 195 now, with Memorial warning that the real number is likely to be very much higher.

      Russia is certainly holding far more Ukrainian political prisoners than the list would suggest. Memorial HRC is right to wish to analyse the charges and evidence, if any, backing them, before drawing conclusions, though in many cases such analysis is largely a formality. Russia is now holding over 30 Ukrainian Muslims from Crimea prisoner on charges of involvement in the peaceful pan-Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir which is legal in Ukraine. Since Memorial considers all those convicted merely of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir to be political prisoners, and with respect to Crimea also points out that Russia is in breach of international law by applying its legislation on occupied territory, it is merely a question of time before all Crimean Muslims in custody are declared political prisoners.

      Memorials list does not include several Ukrainian political prisoners, presumably because of the secrecy Russia maintained and the use of pressure to force the men into agreeing to admit to the charges.

      Valentin Vyhivsky, for example, was abducted from Simferopol in September 2014 and taken to Lefortovo Prison in Moscow where he was held incommunicado for several months and never had a proper lawyer until after he had been convicted of mystery spying and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

      Ukrainian academic Dmytro Shtyblikov was also prevented from seeing a lawyer and placed under immense pressure until he agreed to plead guilty to planning acts of sabotage in Crimea.

      The list does not include Mykola Shyptur, Maidan activist and probably Russias first Ukrainian political prisoner who was probably arrested, charged and convicted on absurd charges because the inadvertent involvement of a police officer made it difficult for him to be abducted and killed (details here)

      It also omits Oleksiy Sizonovych, a pensioner who was abducted by Luhansk militants and almost certainly tortured both in Ukraine and then after having been illegally taken to Russia. He was sentenced to 12 years after being forced into admitting to the charges in the absence of a real lawyer and without any contact with members of his family..

      It will soon be one year since the FSB and Russias National Guard tried to arrest Vedzhie Kashka, 83-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, and instead caused her death. Four men in their fifties and sixties remain imprisoned, although the charges against them are nonsensical and the entire case is clearly being used to try to discredit the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people which Russia has been ordered by the International Court of Justice to stop persecuting.

      The above is not intended as criticism of Memorial HRC, but as an indication of how many prisoners cases may not be identified as political because Russia maintains unwarranted secrecy, and / or uses inadmissible pressure to force them to admit to crimes they never committed. Such pressure in very many cases includes direct methods of torture.

      Over the last year, the FSB have also resorted to shocking methods against young Russians. In the Novoye Velichiye case, for example, around 15 young people are facing long sentences on charges of organizing an extremist group, although it appears that the said group was effectively created by an FSB officer who used forms of provocation and deceit to incriminate young people who would otherwise have simply continued expressing politically critical opinions on social media.

      Since 2014, Russia has systematically persecuted its own citizens, as well as Ukrainians for expressing critical views about its annexation of Crimea and military aggression against Ukraine.

      It is also now persecuting historians who have uncovered the crimes and the mass graves of the victims of Stalins Terror. Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression coincides with the anniversary of the mass execution by quota of Ukrainian, Russian and other prisoners sent to the notorious Solovki Labour Camp during the worst months of Stalins Terror. From 27 October to 4 November 1937, 1,111 prisoners were executed by the NKVD, including 289 Ukrainian writers, playwrights, scientists and other members of the intelligentsia. Their remains lie, together with those of nearly nine thousand victims, at the Sandarmokh Clearing in Karelia, near the Russian border with Finland.

      It was historian Yuri Dmitriev and colleagues from the Memorial Society who uncovered the mass graves at the Sandarmokh Clearing in Karelia, with Sergei Koltyrin, the Director of a local museum working closely with them.

      Both Dmitriev and Koltyrin are now imprisoned on charges clearly aimed at discrediting them and Memorial. The arrests have coincided with a brazen attempt to rewrite the history of Sandarmokh and place in question the proven fact that the graves there are those of thousands of victims of the Terror (See Russia arrests second historian of Stalins Terror).

      Memorial HRC reports that about half of the political prisoners it has identified are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. It suggests that here the real number could be 3-4 times higher. The figures are also set to rise with Russias persecution of Jehovahs Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists gaining pace. It is frighteningly obvious that Russia FSB are using the same tactics against Crimean Muslims and Jehovahs witnesses, with such persecution requiring very little effort for the enforcement officers and likely promotion or other perks for good statistics on fighting fictitious terrorism or extremism (details here).

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      • Ukrainians held illegally in Russia or occupied Crimea Pt 2
        Teymur Abdullaev
        Uzeir Abdullaev
        Talyat Abdurakhmanov
        Rustem Abiltarov
        Zevri Abseitov
        Muslim Aliev
        Refat Alimov
        Ernest Ametov
        Kazim Ametov
        Ali Asanov
        Suleyman (Marlen) Asanov
        Volodymyr Balukh
        Ali Bariev
        Envir Bekirov
        Memet Belyalov
        Oleksiy Bessarabov
        Asan Chapukh
        Oleksiy Chyrniy
        Mykola Dadey
        Kostyantin Davydenko
        Bekir Degermendzhy
        Mustafa Degermendzhy
        Volodymyr Dudka
        Emil Dzhemadenov
        Arsen Dzhepparov
        Pavlo Hryb
        Timur Ibragimov
        Rustem Ismailov
        YevhenKarakashev
        Mykola Karpyuk
        Stanyslav Klykh
        Oleksandr Kolchenko
        Andriy Kolomiyets
        Oleksandr Kostenko
        Arsen Kubedinov
        Emir-Usein Kuku
        Hennady Lymeshko
        Serhiy Lytvynov
        Enver Mamutov
        Nariman Memedeminov
        Remzi Memetov
        Emil Minasov
        Ihor Movenko
        Seiran Mustafaev
        Server Mustafaev
        Yevhen Panov
        Leonid Parkhomenko
        Nuri Primov
        Volodymyr Prysich
        Ismail Ramazanov
        Ferat Saifullaev
        Aider Saledinov
        Seiran Saliev
        Enver Seytosmanov
        Oleg Sentsov
        Hlib Shabliy
        Dmytro Shtyblikov
        Oleksandr Shumkov
        Viktor Shur
        Mykola Shyptur
        Vadim Siruk
        Oleksiy Sizonovych
        Edem Smailov
        Oleksandr Steshenko
        Oleksiy Stohniy
        Renat Suleyman
        Roman Sushchenko
        Roman Ternovsky
        Ruslan Trubach
        Rustem Vaitov
        Resul Velilyaev
        Valentyn Vyhivsky
        Andriy Zakhtei
        Server Zekeryaev
        Ruslan Zeytullaev
        http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1540954189ov

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        • Ukrainian Man Charged With Abetting Terrorism Refuses To Testify At Russia Trial
          RFL/RL November 15, 2018 10:23 GMT

          A 20-year-old Ukrainian man charged with abetting terrorism has refused to testify at his trial in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

          "I am not guilty and refuse to give any testimonies," Pavlo Hryb told the North Caucasus Regional Military Court where the trial resumed on November 15.

          Hryb, whose family contends he was set up by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), went on trial on July 23, but the court halted it after finding that the formal charge against the defendant was based on a clause of the Criminal Code that had not been in place at the time of the alleged crime.

          Prosecutors sent the case back to the court in October after correcting what Russian media called a procedural mistake.

          Hryb went missing in August 2017 after he traveled to Belarus to meet a woman he met online.

          Relatives believe he walked into a trap set by the FSB, which later told Ukraine that Hryb was being held in a detention center in Russia on suspicion of abetting terrorism.

          Russian investigators accuse Hryb of using the Internet to instruct a teenage girl in Russia's southern city of Sochi to carry out a terrorist act using an explosive device.

          Hryb's father, Ihor Hryb, has argued that the case against his son was Russian retaliation for Internet posts that were openly critical of Russia's interference in Ukraine.

          Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

          Moscow backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.
          Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-ma.../29602138.html


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          • Russian Newspaper Publishes New Year's Messages From Jailed Activists
            RFE/RL December 28, 2018 17:21 GMT

            Imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, a Crimean native who opposed Russia's 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, has written in a letter to the Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta newspaper that he is not "going to give in."

            "I do not expect good news [in 2019].... But it does not mean that I am going to give in, be disappointed, or regret anything," Sentsov wrote in a letter published on December 28.

            Ahead of the New Year, Novaya Gazeta published letters penned by several people who were either sentenced, are facing trial, or are under investigation in high-profile cases in Russia that many call politically motivated.

            Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of terrorism in a trial criticized by human rights groups and Western governments as politically motivated.

            Oyub Titiyev, an activist who is on trial in his native Chechnya, called on people imprisoned on "fabricated" charges, not to give up in their fight for freedom.

            "Our being behind bars now is not the end.... We will all continue to fight. I wish you all not to stop fighting, to struggle to the end, until we are released. And more importantly, I wish you all to leave this place healthy and strong so that you can continue to work further and help society," the leader of the Moscow-based Memorial human rights group's branch in Chechnya wrote.

            The former director of Moscow's Gogol Center, Aleksei Malobrodsky, expressed gratitude to "all citizens" for their support as he and three co-defendants face trial for alleged embezzlement in a case widely seen as politically motivated.

            "I regained an almost lost hope that there are so many good people around me and that all of us have a chance to become a society," Malobrodsky wrote, adding that he wished for a fair trial for his friends and himself.

            The case against Malobrodsky and his co-defendants, including film director Kirill Serebrennikov, prompted accusations that the Russian authorities were targeting cultural figures who are at odds with President Vladimir Putin's government.

            Novaya Gazeta also published letters by three members of the so-called New Greatness movement: Ruslan Kostylenkov, who is in pretrial detention, and teenagers Maria Dubovik and Anna Pavlikova, who are under house arrest.

            "I don't have high hopes for a successful outcome of my case, but as long as I am alive and well, I will continue to resist in the courtroom," Kostylenkov wrote.

            The trio were arrested in March along with seven other members of New Greatness. Six are being held in pretrial detention while four are under house arrest.

            Those charged say they had turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement after the move was proposed by one of their members.

            Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

            Another letter published by Novaya Gazeta was penned by former correspondent Ali Feruz, who moved to Germany in February after being denied political asylum in Russia.

            An Uzbek national, Feruz was held in a Russian immigration detention center for six months and feared he could be tortured if deported to Uzbekistan.

            "Liberty is the best gift!" Feruz wrote, adding that he wished for all political prisoners in Russia to be released soon. https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-news.../29681821.html

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            • Learn Russian with Euromaidan Press: send holiday greetings to the Kremlins Ukrainian hostages
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alya Shandra 2018/12/30 - 01:43

              Russias undeclared war against Ukraine is going to enter its sixth year. In result of this war, Russia has arrested at least 70 Ukrainians on politically motivated charges, has taken 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors as POWs, and is imprisoning over 100 in the basement prisons of its puppet republics in Donbas. Away from home, tortured to extract incriminating testimonies, these people need our support more than ever. By sending a letter or a postcard, you will not only keep the prisoners spirits up, you will send a message to the Kremlin that the world is watching, and that Russian crimes will not go unpunished. Letters and postcards are accepted only in Russian but fear not, we will show you how.

              http://euromaidanpress.com/2018/12/3...nian-hostages/

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              • Hero In Ukraine, Hated In Belarus
                RFE/RL BELARUS Neil Bowdler December 05, 2018 17:42 GMT

                Mikhail Zhyzneuski, who was shot dead during the Euromaidan protests of 2014, is considered a hero in Ukraine. But in his home city of Homel in Belarus, his grave has been vandalized and his family say they have been treated as pariahs.
                VIDEO: blob:https://www.rferl.org/c09390b3-1c97-...8-48b8e25cee02

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                • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 11:03 11.01.2019
                  Sentsov finishes new novel, awaits publication of short stories, film based on his script Iryna Gerashchenko

                  First Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament and Ukraine's envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group's humanitarian subgroup Iryna Gerashchenko has received from Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was illegally convicted and jailed in Russia, a letter in which he shares his plans, expectations and attitudes.

                  "I've received a letter from Oleh Sentsov. The key words for Ukrainians and the world: "I don't intend to lose heart or start whining. ...And I am not going to stop either my creative or social endeavors," she said on Facebook, citing Sentsov's letter on Thursday.

                  Gerashchenko said Sentsov continues to write. At the end of December 2018 he completed a new novel.

                  "He expects a collection of his stories, a novel to be published this year, a novel and the filming of a movie or a theatrical production according to his script," she said.

                  Gerashchenko said Sentsov's willpower and courage are inspirational to all Ukrainians.

                  "We have no right to give up. Ukrainians being held in prisons of the Russian Federation are setting an example for us," she said, positing part of Sentsov's letter on her Facebook page.

                  As earlier reported, in August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court sentenced Sentsov, arrested in Crimea in 2014, to 20 years in a high-security penitentiary for forming a terrorist group in Crimea.

                  Sentsov went on hunger strike on May 14, 2018, and demanded that all Ukrainians incarcerated in Russia be released. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/558221.html


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                  • From Stus to Sentsov: Ukraines Soviet-era political prisoners of the Kremlin
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS UkraineWorld Andriy Liubarets 2019/01/12 - 19:38

                    https://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...ner.jpg?w=1535
                    Art by Andriy Yermolenko

                    12 January is the Day of the Ukrainian Political Prisoner. On this day in 1972, the KGB began massively arresting Ukrainian Shistdesyatnyky, a name depicting a movement of cultural figures for democratic and national revival which started in the 1960s. Nineteen people were arrested in Lviv and Kyiv during a Vertep Christmas celebration which was an open protest against the Soviet government. Among them Vasyl Stus, Ivan Svitlychny, Vyacheslav Chornovil, Iryna Kalynets, Stefaniya Shabatura, Yevhen Sverstiuk, Leonid Pliushch, and others.

                    Today, the Ukrainian political prisoner theme is most widely known thanks to the Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin, of whom there are at least 70, according to the LetMyPeopleGo campaign. The most famous of them is arguably Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker Russia accused of terrorism after he resisted the occupation of his native Crimea in 2014. But the story of Russias persecution of Ukrainians for political reasons goes back a long time, back to the Russian Empire. The repressions got especially brutal during the Soviet times. UkraineWorld has made an overview of the predecessors of the contemporary political prisoners of the Kremlin, which we republish here.

                    In the late 1920s to early 1930s, Soviet authorities continuously targeted different groups of intellectuals with repressive measures. Among them, trials against the so-called Union for Ukraines Liberation (SVU) an organization practically invented by USSRs special police were some of the most massive.

                    During that episode, 45 people were accused in 1930 of organizing an armed uprising to overthrow the Soviet regime in Ukraine, of terror against communist leaders, and of foreign interference. The rebels were led by Serhiy Yefremov, a Ukrainian academic and the Deputy Director of Ukraines National Academy of Sciences, according to the official investigation. Other participants in the alleged conspiracy included former politicians and governors of the short-lived Ukrainian Peoples Republic, as well as scientists, university professors, students, schoolteachers, priests, writers, editors, lawyers, a librarian, and a school principal. Most of these defendants were imprisoned for one to ten years, and though some were pardoned or given conditional detentions, all of these prosecutions had a second function: to set a precedent for future repressions.

                    Soon, another 700 people were accused in connection with the SVU a number that may have reached as high as 30,000, according to some researchers. And the frequently, their prosecution lapsed into the absurd: for instance, the SVU was alleged to have maintained a medical faction tasked with hurting communist patients. Such details demonstrate how threatened Soviet authorities felt by Ukrainian intellectuals: ultimately, their attempts to imprison individuals who they found dangerous or harmful expanded into elaborate theories of conspiracy and equally draconian attempts to break them up.

                    THE EXECUTED RENAISSANCE
                    https://i0.wp.com/ukraineworld.org/s...pg?w=960&ssl=1

                    Such repressions would have catastrophic consequences for an entire generation of Ukrainian writers and artists. Relatively liberal tendencies during the 1920s the development of education and the comparative leniency of the Soviet regime helped to foster a wide range of art movements and schools. But this flourishing, later named the Executed Renaissance, came to a tragic end: the eras prominent figures were often imprisoned and even executed on charges of terrorist activity. The poet-futurist Mykhailo Yalovy and writer-satirist Ostap Vyshnya, for instance, were accused in 1933 of spying and attempting to assassinate the Soviet official Pavel Postyshev. In 1937, poet Mykhayl Semenko was executed as an alleged member of a terrorist organization and charged with attempting to assassinate Stanislav Kosior, Ukraines communist party leader.

                    Those accusations were completely fabricated, but by building such cases, the Soviet regime worked to build an image of Ukrainian intellectuals as aggressive nationalists and terrorists.
                    http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/01/1...f-the-kremlin/



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                    • Russia may kill disabled Crimean Tatar with most absurd show trial yet
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alya Shandra 2019/01/13 - 04:13

                      https://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...rov.jpeg?w=990
                      Edem Bekirov had in January 2018 undergone heart surgery. Photo: screenshot from TSN video

                      The Russian politically motivated trials against Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars have certainly been ridiculous, but the one against Edem Bekirov takes first place on the absurdity scale. The severely disabled activist has been illegally kept in prison since 12 December 2018 and may die at any moment.

                      The 57-year-old Crimean Tatar activist, who had for 18 years suffered from numerous health conditions, was apprehended at the border checkpoint between Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea on 12 December.

                      Like most Crimean Tatars out of the 70 political prisoners of the Kremlin, Russia is accusing him of terrorism. After the occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, Russia has especially targeted Crimeas indigenous population, the Crimean Tatars, many of whom had vocally opposed the illegal landgrab. Unauthorized searches, kidnappings, beatings, and imprisonment on unproven charges of terrorism are widespread.

                      According to Refat Chubarov, head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, told that Edem Bekirov was headed to Crimea from Ukraines adjacent Kherson Oblast to visit his 78-year old mother and relatives before the next planned heart operation that was to be held on 16 December. Bekirov is a person with a group 1 disability: he has diabetes, has recently suffered a heart attack and a heart operation. One of his legs is amputated due to complications from diabetes; Bekirov has a prosthetic leg and moves with crutches. The wound after the amputation hasnt yet healed and has to be rebandaged daily.

                      Speaking after the court session on 13 December, when Kremlin-controlled Kyiv district court of Simferopol arrested Bekirov for two months on 13 December, his lawyer Aleksei Ladin told that the FSB, Russias secret service, suspects Bekirov of illegally storing and transporting ammunition and explosives. According to the Russian investigation, Bekirov while visiting Crimea in 2017 had given a secret witness whose name the FSB keeps in secret, a bag with TNT, 192 bullets, and a Makarov gun with a total weight of 14 kg. Bekirov allegedly asked the secret witness codenamed Memetov to store these objects.

                      Ladin says the accusation is ridiculous.

                      We determined in court that Bekirov is not able to lift more than a 1.5-liter bottle due to his health. If he lifts anything more than 3 kg, he will suffer catastrophic consequences for his health, the lawyer told.

                      Despite this, the court found Bekirovs arrest warrant reasonable and left him under arrest for two months. However, there was no proof of Bekirov transporting the bag with the TNT from Ukraine to Crimea.

                      Basically, the FSB investigator came to court and said: We think that Bekirov committed a crime, and the court, not checking the information but just believing their word, sent the person into pretrial detention for two months, Ladin said.

                      Apart from Bekirovs inability to lift heavy weights, his cell phone data proves he couldnt have been in the location where the FSB supposes the bullets and explosives were given back in May 2017, Ladin claims.

                      Crimean social media users have dubbed Bekirovs arrest the most absurd show they ever had.

                      More than a year, the Crimean checkpoint is equipped with magnetic frames for people and scanners for luggage. Everyone knows how strict the inspection is. For whom did they create these fairy tales about transporting weapons as a reason for an arrest?

                      Death sentence
                      This decision is equal to a death sentence, his relatives and Ukrainian officials told.

                      His wife Gulnara explained that the risk of death for her husband is high, as there are high chances that he will have a heart attack, or, in the worst case, an acute coronary death. The unhealing wound on the stump of his right leg is constantly at risk of an acute septic condition, which can also lead to death.

                      I beg you: help save Eden. Keeping my husband in prison means a de-facto death sentence for him, Gulnara Bekirovas ardent appeal states.

                      For him, imprisonment is equal to death, as he has had a type 1 disability group for 18 years. He has to take 16 pills daily, and have daily rebandaging. He had an operation on his heart nearly a year ago, and four shunts. He should have been hospitalized for planned procedures after one month. He doesnt feel anything below his waist. I can hardly imagine his state now, Emine Dzhepparova, deputy Information Minister, told RFE/RL.

                      Despite this obviously serious condition, Bekirov was left in the pretrial detention center, which is hazardous to him given his state of health. Speaking in court on 10 January 2019, Bekirov said that the stump of his leg needs daily rebandaging, which is impossible in his prison cell, that he has had new festering wounds open while in prison, and that he has started feeling drastically worse in prison.

                      Bekirov said that he has been fighting for this life for the last 20 years and that a guilty sentence would be equal to an execution.

                      Lawyer Aleksei Ladin told that while his client was being examined in the Simferopol hospital, the doctor was shocked with his condition, having warned his relatives that the patient may fall into a coma.

                      The court has permitted Bekirov to depart for a medical exam at the hospital only on 14 January. He has not received any adequate medical assistance to date.

                      The UK and EU have spoken out, demanding Russia free Edem Bekirov and provide him the necessary medical help.
                      complete article http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/01/1...trial-bekirov/



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                      • Ukrainian political prisoner Hryb on verge of life and death in Russia Ombudsperson
                        A 20-year-old Ukrainian requires urgent heart surgery, the Ombudsperson stresses.
                        UNIAN: 23:20, 29 January 2019

                        Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Hryb, illegally held by Russian authorities, is on the verge of life and death, as reported by the Verkhovna Rada's human rights envoy Liudmyla Denisova.

                        Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb, held Russian dungeons, is on the verge of life and death! The 20-year-old political prisoner needs urgent heart surgery because his state of health is supercritical, Denisova wrote on Facebook.

                        In particular, she stressed that as a result of Hryb's medical exams, doctors diagnosed a number of serious diseases.

                        According to Denisova, the administration of the detention center in Rostov region, where the Ukrainian is being held, underestimates the young man's critical condition and ignores serious illnesses. She noted that Paul is not provided full-fledged medical treatment, while this leads to existing diseases becoming more acute.

                        Also, as the ombudsman stated, "the negative impact on the state of health of the Kremlin's political prisoner is reinforced by conditions of his detention, stressful situations, and malnutrition."

                        "I appeal to Chairman of the United Nations Committee against Torture, Jens Modvig, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Gilles Carbonier, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine, Alan Aeshlimann, and head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Fiona Fraser, asking you to help Pavlo Hryb receive urgent health care," wrote Denisova.

                        I also appeal to diplomatic staff stationed in Rostov-on-Don, with a request to take all possible measures to implement impartial and objective monitoring of the rights and freedoms of the political prisoner. I ask you to be present during court hearings in the case of the imprisoned citizen of Ukraine Pavlo Hryb," the Ombudsperson concluded. https://www.unian.info/society/10426...udsperson.html

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                        • khpg.org 19.02.2019 | Halya Coynash
                          The Facts about Anti-Semitism in Ukraine that Russia doesnt want known

                          There have been no acts of anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine over the last two years and relatively little anti-Semitic vandalism. This lack of news would not be worth reporting if it wasnt for the constant claims that the opposite is true, as well as evidence that paid provocateurs have been used to simulate hate crimes.

                          Russias attempts from 2014 to justify its aggression against Ukraine by claiming that fascist and anti-Semitic hordes had seized control after Euromaidan ran into two major problems. One was the large number of prominent Jewish religious and secular figures who came out publicly to refute such lies. There was also the significant amount of monitoring carried out by Vyacheslav Likhachev and, in recent years, the National Minorities Monitoring Group which he heads.

                          In an important article for the Ukrainian newspaper Khadashot, Likhachev has provided information about their monitoring in 2018, as well as insight into changes in the situation and why so many reports are in conflict with the hard facts.

                          One of the problems with most reports is that they are prompted by one or two events which are then asserted to reflect an alarming increase or similar. Likhachev, however, has been both monitoring specific years and comparing them with others since 2004, and his findings are quite different.

                          The worst years for acts of anti-Semitic violence were from 2005 to 2007, where there was a wave of dangerous street attacks. In 2005 13 people were victims of such violence, while in 2004, and in both 2006 and 2007 there were eight victims. The number fell to five in 2008, then to one in 2009 and 2010 and none at all in 2011. In each of the following three years there were four victims, with this number falling to one in 2015 and 2016, and then none in 2017 and 2018.

                          Based on his evidence, Likhachev concludes that there is no anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine and that Ukrainian Jews are not confronted with direct physical danger.

                          The main anti-Semitic crime observed is that of vandalism, including desecration of graves, synagogues and memorials to victims of the Holocaust, with the methods including the breaking of windows, arson or anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi graffiti.

                          There were 12 such cases in 2018, though that figure may change very slightly as two cases are being checked. Even if these are added, the figure will still be half that of the previous year. There was a wave of such anti-Semitic vandalism which began in 2014 with 23 such acts of violence and which is now on the decline. He assumes that vandalism was linked with the post-Euromaidan situation and Russias aggression against Ukraine. Against the backdrop of the deaths on Maidan and then from Russias aggression against Ukraine, acts of xenophobic vandalism graffiti on walls and monuments; breaking windows or even acts of arson were not viewed by a part of the population as a really serious problem.

                          The second factor Likhachev mentions is particularly interesting given Russias attempts to use the anti-Semitism card against Ukraine. A contributory cause for the increase in anti-Semitic vandalism in 2014-2017, he is convinced, was the active support for Ukraines government from the Jewish community and the participation of prominent members of the community in defending Ukraines independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

                          This quite naturally provoked demonstrations of anti-Semitism from pro-Russian separatists. Among people supporting Russian nationalism, anti-Semitic views are in any case quite widespread. If the graffiti earlier had suggested that the culprits held nationalist or even neo-Nazi views, from 2014 vandals often demonstrated pro-Russian and pro-Soviet views. Earlier, Likhachev noted that Ukraines far-right had no need to look for mythical enemies when there was a very real enemy against whom Ukraine needed to be defended.

                          At the beginning of 2016, in a study Two Years of War: Xenophobia in Ukraine 2015, the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group reported a dangerous increase in xenophobia only in Russian-occupied Crimea. Even in the Russian proxy Donetsk and Luhansk peoples republics there appeared to have been a decrease. In fact, however, during the press conference presenting the report, Josef Zisels, the Director of the Congress of National Communities, noted that this was probably because around half of the members of the Jewish community had left Donbas, as had many members of Protestant, Greek-Catholic, Evangelical and other churches, as well as Orthodox believers attached to the Kyiv Patriarchate. Members of the Roma community had also left and virtually no foreign students, who have sometimes fallen victims of xenophobic attacks, had remained in Donbas.

                          Another factor which Lichachev mentions has been reported here. There is certainly evidence of Russia trying to push the idea that all of Ukraine is a hotbed of separatist moods and using fake national minority movements which demand autonomy and claim to be victims of persecution. In the vast majority of such cases, real organizations representing the particular minority have publicly debunked their claims.

                          While there is less definite information available, recent criminal prosecutions, including one by the Polish authorities, suggest that many apparently anti-Semitic, anti-Hungarian, anti-Polish and other hate crimes have essentially been acts of provocation carried out for money. Such acts, Likhachev suggests, have been organized by pro-Russian forces in order to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and to damage its reputation.

                          Some caution is warranted since Ukraines leaders have been inclined to claim a Russian link before any investigation has been carried out. Nonetheless, in a trial now beginning, the prosecution must believe that it can prove that 27 offences were committed by the two suspected provocateurs in custody. In neighbouring Poland, the Security Service [ABW] is convinced that the three Polish members of far-right and very pro-Russian groups whom they have arrested were involved in an attack on the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Uzhhorod. They allegedly did this for money with the aim undoubtedly being to place responsibility for it on Ukrainians.

                          Likhachev points out that such acts of provocation are of strictly limited value and cannot be repeated that often. His guarded optimism is, of course, qualified by the same failings noted by his and other human rights groups for many years. Investigations into any hate crimes are seldom efficient, not least because they often fail to recognize their anti-Semitic or xenophobic motivation, with criminal proceedings initiated simply over vandalism. It took a death in the latest attack on a Roma settlement in Lviv before the authorities really reacted to an alarming number of such attacks, some of which may have been carried out with the police at very least turning a blind eye. http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1550005844




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                          • khpg.org 20.02.2019 | Halya Coynash
                            Ukraine to answer to ECHR for five years sabotage of Maidan investigations
                            http://khpg.org/files/photos/1550624016.jpg

                            Five years after the bloodiest days of Euromaidan, the families of the slain [Nebesna Sotnya] are planning to seek justice at the European Court of Human Rights. This is, frustratingly, not because many of the believed perpetrators are hiding out in Russia, but because the post-Maidan Ukrainian authorities are dragging out or even obstructing the investigation into the crimes committed.

                            During a press briefing on 19 February, Vitaly Tytych, one of the lawyers representing victims families, explained that for a long time they had hoped that there was the will to ensure a proper investigation and court proceedings. They are now forced to conclude that Ukraine is not complying with the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 2 of the Convention protects the right to life, with this obliging the State to not only refrain from unlawfully taking life, but to ensure effective official investigation where people have been killed as a result of the use of force, including by the State. Tytych made it clear that an application to ECHR is still only being considered, but does suggest that this could stop the manipulation by the authorities whose interest in an effective investigation has been in words alone.

                            Many specific examples of obstruction and procrastination have already been reported here, with these often involving the management of the Prosecutor Generals Office, the Interior Ministry and the SBU [Security Service].

                            The Special Investigations Department formed in December 2014 has gained and retained the confidence of lawyers representing the families of Maidan victims and civic activists. This department, however, run by Serhiy Horbatyuk, although structurally within the Prosecutor Generals Office, has constantly run into problems and met with obstruction from all the above-mentioned enforcement bodies.

                            During the briefing, Oleksandra Matviychuk, human rights activist and one of the coordinators of Euromaidan SOS, listed just some of the many ways in which progress by the Special Investigations Department has been sabotaged since soon after it began its work in early 2015. Cases have been arbitrarily taken away from it just when they appeared to be making progress. The number of investigators has also been reduced, and the Department has faced other organizational obstructions. At present, the staff of it enjoy no social or labour guarantees at all. Although this is purportedly because of a legislative clash, Matviychuk assumes that the PGOs management and Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko himself are making no effort to rectify the situation.

                            The Departments investigators constantly run up against obstruction from the SBU and Interior Ministry. The lack of willingness to cooperate with the investigators is probably not surprising. As reported back in November 2018, 10 people suspected of crimes against Maidan activists hold managerial posts in the enforcement bodies, while a further 23 are low-ranking officers.

                            One new and very real danger lies at legislative level with the Special Investigations Department due to hand over all investigations into Maidan crimes to the State Bureau of Investigations at the end of this year. This could effectively kill many investigations, with new investigators probably starting from scratch.

                            For the families of victims, the obstruction and lack of progress are a betrayal and also ongoing torture with traumatic court hearings, etc. constantly postponed. Volodymyr Bondarchuk, whose father Serhiy was killed on Maidan, noted that an expert assessment due back in 2016 has still not been carried out.

                            The courts also, seeing that public interest has waned, and people are not attending court hearings, also begin dragging the proceedings out.

                            None of the above is new, but that is also disturbing since, despite all assurances from Ukraines leaders, nothing has been done to rectify problems which place a very large number of the investigations at risk.

                            With very few exceptions, there have been no real attempts to have judges who passed knowingly wrongful rulings during Maidan dismissed. The High Council of Justice has taken no measures to investigate situations where judges have since passed extremely questionable rulings which, for example, enabled a main suspect of the killings, Dmytro Sadovnyk, to flee justice, or where they are obviously dragging out proceedings.

                            The Special Investigations Department has carried out investigations into 4,100 episodes linked with Maidan. There have been 52 convictions, with only nine people sentenced to periods of imprisonment. This is despite the fact that 104 people were killed during the last month of the protests, most gunned down on 18 and 20 February. 17 Berkut special forces officers were also killed during those two bloodiest days.

                            At a briefing on 21 November Horbatyuk reported that 442 individuals had been informed they were under suspicion, with 279 indictments passed to the court. 13 men are currently in custody, with four of these former Berkut officers on trial accused of killing 39 activists

                            There are unsolved killings, including the first deaths of Serhiy Nihoyan; Mikhail Zhyznevsky and Roman Senyk. Horbatyk is adamant that they will not stop until they have established who was behind all the killings, but says that one of the problems is that law enforcement officers do not give testimony and the Interior Ministry is not firing those believed involved in crimes against Maidan.http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1550620927





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                            • khpg.org 20.02.2019 | Halya Coynash
                              Russia claims more freedom of speech in Crimea than in Europe, while silencing another Ukrainian journalist


                              Three days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly claimed that anybody can come to Crimea and see that there are no violations of human rights, Russia banned another Ukrainian journalist from Crimea for reporting on political prisoners. Alina Smutko is the third journalist or activist to be prohibited from entering occupied Crimea in just the last three months.

                              Smutko, a Ukrainian journalist and photographer, was handed the document banning her from entering until 26 May 2028 when she tried to enter Crimea from the Chonhar checkpoint on 18 February. The document provides no specific reason, however the ban comes almost exactly three months after another Ukrainian journalist, Alyona Savchuk, was also banned for 10 years. In both cases, the document cites Article 27 1.1 of the Procedure for entering and leaving the Russian Federation, with this justifying a ban as being for the purpose of ensuring the states defence capacity or security, or public order. Savchuk and Smutko have both played an invaluable role in giving a voice and the faces to Russias ever-increasing number of political prisoners and their families. Smutko was, in fact, travelling to Crimea in order to prepare material for Krym.Realii on political prisoners families.

                              If Russia believed that these two young Ukrainians voices were a threat to its security worthy of a 10-year-ban, it clearly saw the danger posed by Oliver Loode, an Estonian civic activist, as even greater. Loode learned on 16 December 2018 that he had been banned from Russia and Crimea, while it remains under Russian occupation, until 2073! In Loodes case, this is probably because of his involvement in the international movement #LiberateCrimea. Russia has just issued an arrest warrant against Eskender Bariev, exiled Crimean Tatar Mejlis member and co-founder of this movement.

                              In the light of Lavrovs assertions, it is worth reiterating that the threat posed by the two journalists was that they told the truth about political prisoners in occupied Crimea, no more. They have only been banned from a part of their own country, under illegal Russian occupation, unlike several Ukrainians living in Crimea. Nariman Memedeminov is a civic journalist active in Crimean Solidarity, the civic initiative defending political prisoners and their families and reporting on repression in Crimea. He has been imprisoned since March 2018 and is facing absurd charges pertaining to innocuous videos posted on YouTube before Russias annexation. 68-year-old journalist Mykola Semena received a 2.5 year suspended sentence and total silencing order for an article in which he expressed his opposition to Russian occupation of his home. He is still being prevented from travelling to Kyiv for urgently needed medical treatment

                              Lavrov did not appear at the Munich Security Conference on 15 February alone. With him was Maria Volkonskaya, the Chief Editor of the Kremlin-loyal Krymskaya Gazeta who brought a glossy English-language Crimean Journal aimed at proving how good things are in Crimea. This publication, which even looks Soviet, purports to tell the inside story about Crimean media and Crimea, and counter the lies and fakes that people in the west hear. One section even begins with the assertion that Crimea has far more freedom of speech than in Europe.

                              Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, also knows about freedom of speech under Russian occupation. The then 60-year-old who suffers from a number of serious illnesses was sentenced in 2017 to two years imprisonment on the basis of a falsified translation of an interview in which he welcomed stricter sanctions as a means of forcing Russia to stop occupying Crimea. He was later exchanged, together with Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader and political prisoner Akhtem Chiygoz, almost certainly for two suspected Russian state assassins imprisoned in Turkey. Both men are now unable to return to their homeland, as are many Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians whose opinions Russia clearly deems a threat to its national security.

                              Umerov was scathing about Lavrovs attempts at Munich to deny discrimination against Crimean Tatars. The few achievements Lavrov cited were essentially for propaganda purposes, he said, and the supposed state language status of Crimean Tatar language was pure fiction. Russia is destroying Crimean Tatar cultural heritage, as seen with its supposed restoration, although in fact destruction of the renowned Khans Palace in Bakhchysarai. There are ongoing armed searches and arrests, with the number of political prisoners rising and well over 100 children deprived of their fathers. Russias militarization of Crimea has reached monstrous proportions, Umerov notes, and Moscow is changing the makeup of Crimea by bringing in people from Russia.

                              Lavrovs speech at Munich was met with derision by the audience in Munich. He and Moscows latest English-language propaganda publication could be dismissed were it not for the evident intensification of efforts to silence reports of human rights abuse in occupied Crimea. The bans on independent journalists are coinciding both with a new offensive against Crimean Tatar rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov and attempts by Russias censor Roskomnadzor, with YouTubes collaboration, to force Ukrainian publications to delete material about political prisoners.
                              http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1550534619







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                              • khpg.org 21.02.2019 | Halya Coynash
                                Russia moves political prisoner Balukh from Crimea in new revenge for Ukrainian Flag

                                Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh has been moved from a Crimean prison to Russia, with the gruelling journey to Russian Krasnodar likely to be dragged out for up to a month. There had been no warning of such plans which may well have arisen after the widespread events marking the political prisoners 48th birthday on 8 February.

                                Balukh was moved from the Kerch prison colony to the Simferopol SIZO [remand prison] on 13 February. His lawyer received no information about that move, and it was initially thought that Balukh could have simply been taken to Simferopol for his cassation appeal. It was then learned on 18 February that he had been taken from Simferopol with the destination clearly Russia. The previous day, the SIZO staff had refused to accept a food parcel from Balukhs wife, meaning that he will have been moved hungry, and doubtless without the clothes he will need in Russia where it is much colder.

                                Russias Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova confirmed on 19 February that Balukh was being moved, but claimed that according to Russian legislation, a persons whereabouts are not revealed until they reach the final destination, which could be from two weeks to a month.

                                Moskalkovas mention of legislation is curious, and not only because Russia is in breach of international law by imposing its own legislation on occupied Crimea. Article 73 of Russias criminal procedure code states clearly that, except in circumstances that do not apply here, prisoners are held in the part of the RF (or occupied territory!) in which they lived.

                                In fact, the legislation allows such discretionary powers that it can easily be abused, as it has been in almost all cases involving Ukrainian political prisoners. It should be stressed that Russia is also directly breaching a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights. In March 2017, the Court issued its judgement in the Case of Polyakova and Others vs. Russia, in which it stated unequivocally that imprisoning people thousands of kilometres away from their families is a violation of their right to family ties. In the four cases considered, the prisoners had been held between two and eight thousand kilometres from their homes. Russia is holding several political prisoners, including Oleg Sentsov; Oleksandr Kolchenko; Ruslan Zeytullaev and Yevhen Panov in some of the most inhospitable parts of the Russian Federation, thousands of kilometres from their homes.

                                If Russia can claim in those cases that there is no harsh-regime prison in Crimea, that excuse cannot be used with respect to Balukh whose politically-motivated sentence was to imprisonment in an ordinary prison colony. There was no good reason to move him from the prison in Kerch.

                                The move came five days after his 48th birthday, on 8 February and huge numbers of birthday greetings, flash mobs, etc. in Ukraine and beyond. In Crimea, members of the Crimean Tatar community took Balukhs 79-year-old mother flowers and gifts and spent several hours with her. She told them that she had had no idea how many friends her son has. It may well be that the abrupt decision to move Balukh was in retaliation for such publicity.

                                Balukh is internationally recognized as being imprisoned for his pro-Ukrainian views and for the Ukrainian flag which he refused to remove from the roof of his home, and he is likely to be in physical danger in a Russian prison.

                                His imprisonment is the culmination of persecution since Russias annexation of his native Crimea, which began with three administrative prosecutions and then two criminal trials. All of the prosecutions were evidently fabricated and implausible. It is quite likely that Russia has no problem with this since it makes the warning to others who dare to show opposition to its occupation of Crimea even more menacing.

                                For details of the earlier administrative charges, see: Sentenced twice for pro-Ukrainian position in Russian-occupied Crimea.

                                Each time a pretext was invented for pulling the Ukrainian flag down, Balukh returned it to its place on the roof. In late November 2016, he nailed a plaque renaming his home No. 18 Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya St in memory of the over 100 Maidan activists who were killed during Euromaidan. There were immediate demands from the head of the local council to remove it, which he rejected.

                                He was arrested nine days later, on December 8, 2016, after a grossly irregular and unexplained search of his home. During this search, which also resulted in the Ukrainian flag again being removed, the enforcement officers claimed to have found 90 bullets and several TNT explosives.

                                Balukh had no record of crime, only of harassment under Russian occupation, making it simply inconceivable that he would have held anything illegal in his home. This was one of many reasons why the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre declared him a political prisoner almost immediately.

                                There had been an almost unconcealed level of falsification in this case. The officer who had supposedly found the ammunition had not been on duty that day and could not name the individuals who had instructed him to be present or their position in the law enforcement bodies. He was just as unable to explain why hed removed the Ukrainian flag. The ammunition which the men, wandering in some unclear capacity around the Balukh home, allegedly found, had no fingerprints or other traces to indicate that any member of the family had touched them. Most important, the ammunition in question was on the official register of weapons and ammunition in Barnaul, the Altai region of the Russian Federation, and was produced back in 1989. Neither Balukh nor his common-law wife had been allowed to see what was going on, with the officer who effectively held Balukh prisoner during the search unable to give a sensible reason for doing so.

                                Although his lawyers managed to get the original conviction and 3.7-year prison sentence revoked because of the irregularities, the occupation authorities simply staged a remake on 16 January 2018, with the same conviction and sentence.

                                On 5 July 2018, he was sentenced to an extra three years imprisonment on equally absurd charges of disorganizing the work of a detention unit under Article 321 2 of Russias criminal code (details here). http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1550683748





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