Human Rights in Ukraine

The right to a fair trial

Punitive psychiatry used against Crimean ‘terrorist plot’ suspect?


Alexei Chirny, one of four Crimeans accused by Russia of a ‘terrorist plot’ in Crimea, is in a pre-suicide state which activists from the Open Dialogue Foundation believes was brought about by drugs he was ‘treated’ with in the Serbsky Institute.  That institute earned notoriety during the 1970s and later for its use of ‘punitive psychiatry’.

During a press briefing at the Media Crisis Centre on Tuesday, activists spoke about all four prisoners charged with this supposed ‘plot’: renowned film director Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko; Gennady Afanasyev; and Chirny, as well as about the ongoing detention of Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko [see below].

The activists do not have detailed information since the lawyers have had to promise not to divulge the case material.  Petro Okhotin from Open Dialogue explained that the FSB investigators are doing their utmost to separate Sentsov and Kolchenko and Afanasyev and Chirny.  The latter two are supposed to have given testimony against Sentsov and Kolchenko.  It was not known, for example, that Chirny had been in the Serbsky Institute.  Open Dialogue learned that from Ludmila Albern, a member of the public supervisory committee in Russia.  When their delegation arrived at the institute, they were told that Chirny had been moved to the Lefortovo prison.  A day later they learned that he was in the Butyrka pre-trial detention centre in a severe pre-suicidal state. Okhotin believes it possible that Chirny was tortured and fed tranquillizers to get him to give testimony against the other defendants.

As reported early, Chirny is understood to have written a letter asking for the Ukrainian consul to visit him.

The our Crimeans, all known for their non-violent opposition to Russia’s occupation of the Crimea, were arrested in May of this year, and soon afterwards taken to Moscow where they have been held ever since on charges which raise serious doubts. 

38-year-old Oleg Sentsov, renowned Ukrainian film director, solo father of two, EuroMaidan activist and staunch opponent of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea has been accused of master-minding an alleged ’Right Sector terrorist’ plot

The FSB is claiming that he, Alexander Kolchenko; Gennady Afanasyev and  Alexei Chirny are members of a Right Sector ‘diversionary terrorist group’.  Their main aim, or so the FSB version goes, was to carry out ‘diversionary-terrorist’ acts in Simferopol; Yalta and Sevastopol, and in the last of these to destroy a number of buildings, railway bridges and power lines.

Sentsov and Kolchenko have consistently denied all the accusations.  Sentsov has also said that he was tortured to try to get a confession from him.  It seems extremely likely that the ‘confessions’ which Afanasyev and Chirny were beaten out of them.  

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