Dmytro Kupriyan: Photographer of Victims of Torture


Dmytro Kupriyan has been travelling around Ukraine photographing  victims of torture.  He has been able to show his work at two exhibitions in Kyiv, but in fact would like the exhibition to be shown in each law faculty in the country. He believes that if students see the photos, the number of human rights defenders in the country will increase.

He got the idea from a lawyer friend, Oleh Veremiyenko who told him about an American project “Innocence” which gets people wrongfully convicted released.  Oleh suggested trying something similar in Ukraine, however Dmytro Kupriyan says that in Ukraine the law doesn’t work and it’s virtually impossible to get an innocent person released.  Acquittals he points out make up less than 1% of court verdicts.

His first photos were of two clients of Oleh’s (whose cases have been reported here many times): Yevhen Novytsky and Yury Moseyenkov.

He has photographed 42 people, or at least 42 stories, each individual, and each needing to be taken up by journalists.  He says that his first source was a list compiled by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. He had to forget about those in remand prison or who were beaten up in the notorious “mask shows” in penal colonies (when a special “anti-terrorist” unit enters the penal colony and beats up prisoners, sometimes in connection with a hunger strike or similar – translator).

He says that he has tried to encompass the whole country, through still plans to travel to Poltava and the Crimea.

He visited four people in penal colony – he photographed three, but the fourth asked not to be photographed.

Tetyana Pechonchyk, who interviewed Dmytro, asked him which story most stuck in his mind.  He answered that this was the case with lawyer Dmytro Karpenko.  He explains that Dmytro was defending his client when the latter was seized by officers of the Department for Fighting Economic Crime.  Karpenko stood in front of the gates and refused to let their car pass. The officers then got out of the car, grabbed Karpenko and took him away.  He is now facing criminal charges himself (over supposed “resistance”)  - please see and

He says that he would like journalists to write about such cases but most editors say fine, but you now prove that they were beaten and tortured.

He points out that life prisoner Oleksandr Rafalsky has a bag full of letters of support from all over the world. Despite being tortured, he refused to sign a “confession”.

He says that of the people he photographed, only one – Petro Bushmanov – succeeded in proving that he had been tortured, while another – Oleksandr Artyushenko was acquitted though the court turned a blind eye to evidence of torture.

From a report by Tetyana Pechonchyk for the Human Rights Information Centre together with Svidomo

The exhibition “The Tortured” can be viewed here

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