Russia denies abducted Ukrainian student vital medical care
Russia is flouting the European Court of Human Rights by failing to provide Pavlo Hryb, the young student it abducted from Belarus, with medical care despite his potentially life-threatening medical condition. It has also prevented his lawyer from visiting him three times, with this of immense concern since such visits are virtually the only real form of contact with Hryb. The latter is imprisoned in a Rostov SIZO [remand prison], awaiting his appeal against a 6-year sentence, based entirely on an FSB translation of an alleged Internet conversation between Hryb, who was then 19 and a 17-year-old Russian schoolgirl.
Hryb’s lawyer, Marina Dubrovina says that, on three occasions, she spent the whole day at the SIZO but to no avail. Each time the prison authorities claimed that everything (i.e. the premises for meetings) was occupied and that they couldn’t let her in.
According to her information, however, Hryb is still not being provided with medical care without which he could quite literally die. She has appealed to Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova, but has not, at least as yet, received a reply.
The European Court of Human Rights has intervened twice in Hryb’s case, demanding information about the young man’s health and the medical treatment (if any) that he was receiving. They appear to have been lied to on both occasions, and it is likely that his medical records were tampered with, to suggest a better state of health than the young man enjoys. The Court’s order that Ukrainian doctors be allowed to examine him has never been heeded.
Hryb has very serious blood circulation issues, including portal hypertension, and needs specialist care and appropriate conditions. In December 2018, Professor Vasyl Prytula from the Bogomolets National Medical University, who has been treating Hryb since he was a child, issued an assessment of his condition based on readings taken at a Rostov clinic. He found, among other issues, that Hryb’s portal hypertension and hypersplenism, including enlargement of the spleen, were developing, and that he now seemed to be suffering from liver cirrhosis and reduced ability for blood coagulation (heightening the threat of blood haemorrhages).
Prytula was finally able to directly appear at the trial and inform the court of Hryb’s medical condition and the urgent need for an operation. This was all ignored, although an ambulance had needed to be called during virtually ever court hearing because Hryb was in acute pain and unable to continue.
Still a teenager himself, Hryb corresponded in 2017, via the Internet, with a Sochi schoolgirl Tatyana Yershova . The two young people appear to have believed themselves to be in love, and communicated in Ukrainian on all kinds of subjects.
At some point, the person he believed to be Tatyana, arranged a meeting with him in Gomel, Belarus. Unfortunately, the 19-year-old Ukrainian ignored his parents’ warnings and headed off to that meeting. He was abducted, and badly beaten, by FSB officers shortly after the two young people parted after the brief meeting
Hryb has since said that he believes that from June to August 2017, it was the FSB who were communicating with him, using Yershova’s account, in order to trick him into going to Belarus, in order to abduct him.
Yershova, or at least a person claiming to be her, contacted Ukrainian media after it became clear that Hryb had been abducted, and then later spoke with Pavel Kanygin from Novaya Gazeta. She claimed to have not known that Hryb would be abducted, and said that the FSB had threatened to bring terrorism charges against her if she did not cooperate with them against Hryb. This, unfortunately, she did, including during Hryb’s trail.
The young Ukrainian was charged with inciting Yershova to prepare an explosive device to detonate during a school assembly. This was alleged to have been at the instigation of another Ukrainian, Stefan Kapinos, with whom Hryb shared an account.
Dubrovina has explained that the correspondence between the two teenagers was never provided in the original Ukrainian, but in a supposed translation into Russian. When he was first presented with these alleged fragments of the correspondence, Hryb immediately stated that he could not say what was true, and what was falsified, but said that “we did not speak about that”.
It is of critical importance that the FSB did not provide the original, given that there is quite literally no evidence against Hryb except this supposed Skype conversation between March 27 and April 13, 2017. The prosecution claimed that Hryb had suggested planting a bomb at the school on 30 June.
Neither immediately before, on the alleged date chosen, nor afterwards, was there anything to back the FSB’s claim. This includes any action by the FSB which could legitimately be expected if they had learned of such a plan.
The Northern Caucasus Military Court in Rostov-on-Don ignored the lack of any convincing evidence and effective proof that Hryb had been abducted in Belarus rather than, as the prosecution claimed, arrested in Russia. On 22 March 2019, it passed a six-year sentence, which the young man’s state of health would make him very unlikely to survive.
Please write to Pavlo!
It is very important to show him – and Moscow – that he is not forgotten.
Please use the Russian version of his name (Pavel) in any letters and avoid either politics or mention of the ‘case’. Letters need to be in Russian. If this is a problem, you could copy the letter below, perhaps adding a picture or photo.
[In Russian] РФ 344082, Ростовская обл, Ростов-на-Дону, улица Большая Садовая, 31, ФКУ СИЗО-4 ФСИН РОССИИ
Грибу, Павлу Игоревичу, 1988 г.
[In English] Russia, Rostov on the Don, 31 Bolshaya Sadovaya St., SIZO 4
Hryb, Pavel Igorevich (b. 1998)
Желаю Тебе здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь, что очень скоро вернешься домой. Извини меня, что так мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Тебе помним.
[Hi. I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon return home. I’m sorry that this letter is so short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but we’re all thinking about you. ]