Elderly Ukrainian imprisoned by Russian invaders of Crimea for ‘treason against Russia’
65-year-old Halyna Dovhopola has been held in Russian detention since November 2019, with no indication even of whether she has an independent lawyer. Six years after invading and annexing Ukrainian Crimea, Russia is claiming that the elderly woman is guilty of ‘treason against Russia’ which she purportedly demonstrated by ‘spying for Ukraine’.
The lack of information is extremely disturbing. Earlier this year, Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsperson reported that even Dovhopola’s whereabouts were unknown, however on 23 July the Lefortovo District Court in Moscow (under judge Albina Galimova) extended her detention for a further two months.)
The FSB claim that Dovhopola (in Russian: Dolgopolaya) was recruited by the Ukrainian security service, and on the instructions of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Military Intelligence [HUR] “deliberately gathered secret information of a military nature”. The charges are under Article 275 of Russia’s criminal code which carries a mandatory sentence of 12 to 20 years’ imprisonment. That is, of course. ‘if convicted’, however Russia has an appallingly low acquittal rate, and thus far all Ukrainians from Crimea, illegally prosecuted under Russian law on such political charges, have been found guilty of whatever charges were laid. Important to note, however, that the charges laid have often differed radically from the supposed ‘confessions’ about sabotage plans for the Ukrainian military or security service that the person has been videoed making. In almost all such cases, where there has been a discrepancy, the person has later said that the confessions were tortured out of them (see: See: Russia reverts to Stalin-era ‘confessions’ and insane charges in occupied Crimea )
The FSB first reported this arrest on 29 November 2019, saying that it had taken place two days earlier. Neither the FSB, nor the Russian media that made much of ‘the story’ named Dovhopola, referring only to her age and calling her a Russian citizen. The Crimean Human Rights Group was, however, able to establish the woman’s name from ‘court’ documents and the fact that she was born in Bakhchysarai. Russia has made it next to impossible to live in Crimea without Russian citizenship, and the fact that Dovhopola has it does not make her any the less a Ukrainian. It does, unfortunately, mean that it is even harder to gain any information about her
Dmitry Belikh, a politician and illegal ‘State Duma deputy from Sevastopol’ asserted that Dovhopola had worked for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. His comment back on 29 November 2019 was telling: “The arrest of the Black Sea Fleet employee for spying for a neighbouring country is one of hundreds of facts proving that a major spying war is being waged against our country”.
There is no evidence of such ‘facts’, only of arrests. Since its invasion, Russia has seized and imprisoned a large number of Ukrainians on ‘spying’ / ‘sabotage’ or ‘terrorism’ charges. The problem with spying cases is that Russia is able to hold these behind closed doors, making it impossible to ascertain what the real charges were. In all cases involving sabotage or terrorism, the trials have been deeply flawed, with courts ignoring the dubious charges, proof of falsified evidence and of confessions given under torture. Most such cases appear to be aimed at pushing the narrative, repeated by Belikh, namely that Ukraine is involved in ‘subversive’ activities against the country illegally occupying Ukrainian territory.
Other recent victims:
There are also almost 70 Crimean Tatar political prisoners facing or already serving huge sentences on fake ‘terrorism’ charges for their religious / political views and, in at least half the cases, for their civic activism.