Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
15.12.2003 | Igor Mudrik, Kalush, the newspaper “Vikna”

Torture made a young man to bite through his veins


The story told by Kalush inhabitant Oleksiy Zakharkin and his mother is astonishing. Of course, we know about torture in law-enforcing organs, but “Vikna” came across a public statement about this for the first time. A 24-year-old man spent a week in various district precincts of Ivano-Frankivsk without food and sleep, undergoing cruel beatings and other methods of squeezing the needed evidence. At first he was accused of storage of marijuana, then – of burglary. During this week Oleksiy’s family was looking for him, they knew nothing about his lot. They learned where he was only on 23 May, when Oleksiy got to the Kalush hospital with his vein bitten through.

Olga Zakharkina, Oleksiy’s mother, tells:

-- On 17 May about 10 p.m. acquaintances of my son phoned to me and told that they saw how he was detained by the officers of the Vovchinets district precinct of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast militia directorate. When we came to the precinct, son’s car was parked near the building. The militiamen said to me that Oleksiy had been already transported to the preliminary prison, but two another detained still stayed in the precinct. The law-enforcers calmed me saying that everything was done in the framework of law, that they even bought some food for my son for his money. I believed.

Yet, on the next day I met advocate Voroniak, and on 19 May at 9 a.m. we came to the Vovchinets precinct. There we were said that they had no such detained. We waited until 1 p.m., and then I had a talk with the head of investigation department, who looked through the computer files and informed that there was no information about the detention of my son. “None of the investigating officers of our precinct conducted any investigation actions with your son”, he said. Then I fell into hysterics, and then a deputy of the precinct head (I do not know his name) looked into the register book and told that my son had been detained for storing marijuana, and, according to the law, he would be released in three days. They calmed me again saying that Oleksiy was not beaten.

Next day, on Tuesday, I came to the preliminary prison in order to take my son away. There I learned that he was in the Vovchinets precinct. The officers of the district precinct refused to converse with me, they said to leave them alone. I heard the same in the town directorate too. In the evening I turned to Mr. Bondar, the officer on duty of the town directorate, and he told that my son had been released. The same was said to the mother of another detained. Yet, we did not find our children at home. On Wednesday we went to Ivano-Frankivsk with advocates. Oleksiy’s car continued to stay on the precinct parking. Again I could not find my son either in the Vovchinets precinct or in the preliminary prison or in the town directorate. We turned for help to the prosecutor of Ivano-Frankivsk. His deputies informed us that our sons stayed in the preliminary prison.

On the same day, 21 May, we, together with the advocates, sent the telegrams to General Prosecutor Piskun, Minister of Interior Smirnov and ombudsperson Karpacheva. We informed these officials that we could not learn where our children were kept for already five days. About 8 p.m. the mother of another detained youth phoned to me and said that her son returned home, he was cruelly beaten and stayed in bed under medical dropper. She did not want to take him to hospital being afraid that he would be detained again.

On Thursday I got to the consultation to Vasyl Golovchak, a deputy of the oblast prosecutor. Here I learned for the first time that my son was accused of burglary and an investigating officer worked with him. When I said that I did not know about the lot of Oleksiy for already six days, Golovchak phoned to Mykola Zhovnir, the head of the Ivano-Frankivsk town precinct, and spoke to him rather strictly. He told that it was inadmissible, when one man returned from a precinct being brutally beaten, and the family of another one (that is me) was not informed about the detention in the term stipulated by law (12 hours). According to the official data, my son was detained on 17 May and released on 20 May at 18:00. However, the term of detention was prolonged and on 20 May at 1:00 Oleksiy was transported to the investigating officer. I am interested, where he was during these several hours from the release to the new detention? What was his status? According to my son’s words, he was taken from the preliminary prison by the officers of the Pasichnianskiy district precinct and was beaten again without any explanations. He was not at large even for several hours!

Oleksiy affirms that in the pauses in the beating he heard the voice of one of top officers of the Ivano-Frankivsk town directorate, who told that the militiamen might kill him, but they had to obtain the confession. Oleksiy was ready to write the confession even earlier, but the law-enforcers gave him no opportunity to do this.

The advocate managed to meet Oleksiy only on the sixth day after the detention, on Thursday at 18:00. The militiamen were merely hiding my son from the advocate, transporting him from one precinct to another!

During the first three days Oleksiy, in the accordance with laws, stayed under the administrative arrest for storing marijuana, which was put to him by the militia officers, who even did not conceal this. For the next three days he was arrested on the suspicion of burglary (a monkey wrench, electric torch and one gauntlet were found in his car. – Author’s note). The investigating officer promised that Oleksiy would be released after these three days, on Friday. On Friday about 23:00 we came to the town precinct. The investigating officer was absent, and the officer on duty said nothing except swear words. The officer on duty in the town directorate had no information too. Then I returned to the precinct and again achieved nothing.

As it became known later, on 6-7 p.m. Oleksiy was taken away from the preliminary prison by two officers of the Ivano-Frankivsk town precinct and Vovchinetskiy district precinct (their names are not disclosed in the interests of investigation). They put him to the car and transported to... the Kalush district. Here the question arises again: what was Oleksiy’s status at that time? He was not released yet, but he already was not a detained. He was taken by the militiamen without any warrant.

In the Kalush precinct, being afraid that he would be detained for three days more, Oleksiy injured his veins. He asked permission to go to toilet, pick open his skin with a needle and… bite through his vein!

Oleksiy was transported to the Kalush hospital on Saturday at 4:10 a.m. At 5:00 a correspondent of “Vikna” arrived to the hospital, where Oleksiy was kept. Doctors and law-enforcers, which guarded the entrance to the ward, refused to let the journalist to Oleksiy, thus impeding the fulfillment of journalist’s professional duties. On Saturday the militia guard was withdrawn. Only Oleksiy’s mother was permitted to stay near his son in the stationary. According to Oleksiy’s words, only in the hospital he could sleep for the first time during the last week! From the very moment of the detention he got no food or water, the militiamen did not permit him to sleep, they were beating him all the time. He lost his consciousness; they splashed water on his face and beat him again and again…

Owing to the persistency of Oleksiy’s mother, V. Tkachenko, the head of the investigation department of the oblast prosecutor’s office, directed her complaint to V. Didyk, the prosecutor of Ivano-Frankivsk, for checking and taking the appropriate measures. After the discharge from the hospital Oleksiy underwent the forensic expertise. On last Monday he handed another complaint to the Kalush town prosecutor’s office.

Oleksiy Zakharkin tells:

-- On 17 May two my acquaintances went with me to Ivano-Frankivsk. A car overtook us, and some militia officers went out of the car. They detained us motivating the detention by the fact that every of us (!) had marijuana. I was taken to the Vovchinetskiy district precinct. During the entire week I was beaten me by militiamen. As far as I know, other boys were beaten too: a lung of one boy was injured, and another my acquaintance had an attack of epilepsy and was released. The law-enforcers applied the extremely cruel methods: I was handcuffed with my arms under my knees, then I was hanged on an iron stick (in this position a person is curled and hangs with his head down. – Author’s note); they beat me on the head with the 1.5-liter plastic bottle filed with water; they put a gas mask filled with some liquid on my head, etc. In order to conceal the traces of handcuffs, my wrists were wrapped with clothes. Besides the militiamen pressed on my chest near the heart, which resulted in arrhythmia. When, after the week of torture, I was taken to the Kalush town precinct, the militiamen, who transported me there, warned that I had to be silent about what happened with me. Yet, I found some sympathetic people, who phoned to my mother, and told where I was. You know the rest…

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