How the international Convention against torture is obeyed in the Odessa oblast
Alla Korystovskaya, the deputy head of the Ukrainian Party of human rights protection, the head of the human rights protection fund „Rutenia“, Odessa; Aleksandr Orlov, a member of the Ukrainian Party of human rights protection, Krakow
„I ask to protect me from militia. I am not guilty… The militiamen of the Zatoka and Belgorod-Dnestrovski precincts forced me to confess: they beat me, hanged me by my handcuffed wrists on a pipe until I failed, threatened to kill me“. This is a quotation from the complaint sent to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski town organization of the Human Rights Protection Party by 15-year-old Ruslan Kulik, a dweller of the village of Shabo, the Odessa oblast.
On 14 August 2002, in the recreation zone of the settlement Zatoka, the dead body of Leshek Bendezh, a young Polish citizen, who disappeared on 5 August 2002, was found in the sewer system.
The boys detained on the day, when the body was found, told the following story. For many years the attractions in Zatoka have been controlled by Odessa administrator Aleksandr Abramovich and Czechs. The attraction „Solnyshko“ with children swing is situated in one hundred meters from the basic complex, rather far from the cafe, from where Leshek disappeared. Ruslan Kulik and several other minors worked at the attraction for 10 UAH (!!!) per week. They worked from morning to 1 a.m. They had to tidy up the territory. The administration even gave them the place for the night rest… in the toilet.
On 5 August 2002 Leshek Bendezh and his friend were sitting in the cafe. Leshek left the cafe „for a moment“ and disappeared forever…
The application about the disappearance of the Polish citizen was handed to the settlement militia by his friend, Ryszard Wiatr, in the evening of 5 August.
The body of Bendezh was found by the putrid smell, when he began to rot.
The boys, who worked at the attractions, were detained, taken to the settlement militia precinct and brutally beaten. The law-enforcers said to Kulik: „You know, who murdered the Pole, but you do not want to confess“. The boy could not endure the torture and agreed with everything. He and other boys got the status of witnesses and were transported to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski town precinct. The people, who were present there, heard the entreaties of Ruslans mother: „Sonny, they will maim you, tell them all they want, tell them that you are the murderer!“
Here is the story of one of the boys. „I was beaten on my head by three civilly clothed militiamen. Then I was handcuffed and hanged on the metal pipe. I hanged for several minutes that seemed endless; it was very painful and I asked district militiaman Vasiliy Vovchenko to release me promising that I should tell everything. They dictated me my evidence. I knew that this evidence was false. For example, I wrote that on the day of the murder (and I even did not know the date) one my acquaintance was near the cafe „Poseydon“, while I knew that this day he was in Odessa. Then I wrote something about Vova from Illychevsk, a former militiaman.
I was beaten by the militiamen from Belgorod-Dnestrovski, since they were sure that I knew where the weapon was, while I had no slightest idea of this. One of them told that somebody shot at their car and even proposed to show me the traces. But another militiaman said that they had to ask the permission from colonel Yankov and began to beat me again. The room was little and I struck against the furniture. When I was beaten in the building of the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct, I heard the cries of other boys. They were crying so awfully that I thought that my torturers were not the cruelest, although they beat me very painfully. Later I saw Vova from Illychevsk, his hands were black and blue. Vitaliy Kukhtia told that they handcuffed him through the bars and hanged the weight on his hands. Kukhtia was interrogated by officer Spotykaylo, who was especially cruel. Blood flew from under his nails. We (two guys from Odessa, one from Illychevsk and one from Shabo) were lined before the cops and each of them had to choose, whom he wanted to interrogate. I was chosen by a sergeant. Other boys, Vasya and Ali Shuknorov from Odessa, got to officer Solomonov from the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct and were brutally beaten by him. My sergeant spoke normally, but later an officer from Odessa came, who began to beat me. He asked: “Did you see the Pole?“ I answered no. He hit me on the head. After every my „no“ I was hit on the head or in the face. It was painful and I said that I would sign everything, but he retorted: „You will write everything with your own hand“. I wrote that I nearly saw myself, how somebody murdered the Polish guy. All this was a fib…
The cops transported me to the place of the crime. I know this area well, so they wanted to make a witness out of me. I was transported there with Ali. I asked him: „Do you know something?“ „Nothing, I even do not know what they want from me“, he answered. The militiamen said to me that other boys told everything, and that I had to do the same. So I wrote what they dictated to me. I gave evidence against my acquaintances and neighbors, against my schoolmates, against the people, whom I havent seen for a long time. Ali was made to sign the protocol that he pissed in a public place, and was left in the cooler for the night.
Every night the cops were drinking vodka in the precinct. We were very hungry. I asked sergeant Yuri (he was the only one, who did not beat me) to buy me some cookies, and he bought.
The militiamen did not return our things, so I lost my purse with the earned 35 UAH and the invitation card.
When my mother was taking me from the precinct, they told her that it was me, who killed the Pole. Mother asked me to confess, but I had nothing to confess about. At the confrontations I told the truth, but they did not beat me, since I came here with my mother“.
That is what we heard about this case.
Now the boy is treated by a psychologist. He comes back to the norm with great difficulties. Soon he must be recruited to the Ukrainian army, and it seems doubtful that he would be acknowledged as able-bodied for the combatant service.
Kuzma Legun, the 80-year-old manager of the attraction complex, was also taken to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct. The old man felt unwell, but all the same he was transported to the town. In the town the law-enforcers understood that the man could die in their car or in the precinct and threw Legun from the car in 20 kilometers from his home. Of course, they did not care how the feeble old man would get home.
The law-enforcers showed Kulik the things he had never seen before, such as the lighter, which allegedly belonged to the Polish boy. Kulik vaguely understood what he was saying, so he confirmed that the things really belonged to the Pole.
The Human Rights Protection Party sent the telegram to the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine with the appeal to protect the minors, who suffered from the sadism of the militiamen. The officers of the internal service of the Odessa oblast militia directorate checked the described facts. How do you think, was anybody punished? Of course, no! One of the militiamen said to Kuliks mother: „You turned to human rights protectors? You want to go to the court? Take care, you may lose your son!“
According to our information, the situation in the Baltskiy, Frunzenskiy, Nikolayev, Kominternovskiy and Ovidiopol districts of the Odessa oblast is not better.
So, who would investigate the actions of law-enforcers, the actions that are classified as torture by the new Criminal Code of Ukraine?
21 October 2002