A Trial with Grave Consequences


To the Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Jan Tombiński

(The appeal can be endorsed by writing to halyapuff[at]

Dear Mr Tombiński,

We welcome the EU’s unwavering stand regarding selective justice in Ukraine and can only wholeheartedly agree regarding the primary importance of Ukraine’s commitment to rule of law.

It is for this reason that we are writing with respect to the trial of three men accused of a bomb blast in the Zaporizhya Svyatopokrovsk Orthodox Church on 28 July 2010.  Any situation where the outcome of a trial is widely believed to be dependent on promises given the President and not on the guilt or innocence of the defendants is a direct threat to the development of rule of law in Ukraine.

In the so-called “case of the sacristans” there is no evidence against any of the three defendants, only seven “confessions” which all retracted as soon as they received access to proper lawyers, not the passive “defenders” called by the investigators.

The first young man, Anton Kharytonov, a suspended sacristan of the church, was taken to the police station the morning after President Yanukovych was shown on national television ordering the heads of law enforcement bodies to find the culprits within a week. The protocol of detention was, however, only drawn up immediately before his first confession around midnight and night interrogation.  Over the following days Anton wrote another three confessions.

His brother, Serhiy Dyomin, was held in custody from that same evening, 30 July 2010. A day later, during a night interrogation, he confessed to making the bomb.  When specialists placed in question his knowledge and ability to do so, he made a second, quite different confession, this time to having bought the explosive device “from an unidentified individual”.

A second sacristan – Yevhen Zakharchenko – was detained a few days later.

A large number of procedural violations arouse concern in this case. Despite serious grounds for believing that the young men’s numerous confessions were obtained through torture, threats and other psychological pressure, there has never been an investigation.

On the contrary, when two forensic psychologists from accredited institutes (Donetsk and Luhansk) provided assessments confirming that all men had been placed under psychological pressure and had not given evidence independently, without being asked leading questions, Judge Minasov simply ordered a third assessment.  That found no pressure, but detected an “inclination to criminality”.  The defence’s application to have all three forensic psychologists questioned in court to ascertain the reason for such divergent assessments was turned down.

It should be noted that the very considerable changes to the indictment made almost two years into the trial removed specification of time, since the three all had alibis.  None of this elicited any objections or comment from Judge Minasov.

On 2 April 2013, despite a number of violations which have already, in analogous cases, led to European Court of Human Rights judgements against Ukraine, Anton Kharytonov and Yevhen Zakharchenko were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment; Serhiy Dyomin to 14 years.

We are convinced that EU attention to this disturbing case and the presence of a representative of the EU Delegation to Ukraine at the Appeal Court hearing on 1 October 2013 would give everybody, including the Ukrainian public, a clear and extremely important message.

Appeal hearing: 28 August at 14.00 in the Zaporizhya Court of Appeal (50, ul. Artema)

(More detail about the case can be found at )

Yours sincerely,

Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Yevhen Zakharov, Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Oleh Levytsky, advocate, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Natalya Belitser, Pilyp Orlyk Institute for Democrac

Myroslav Marynovych, former political prisoner, Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University

Zynoviy Antonyuk, former political prisoner

Mykola Riabchuk, Vice President of the Ukrainian PEN Centre

Andrew Grigorenko,  General Petro Grigorenko Foundation

Olha Dyomina, mother of Anton Kharytonov and Serhiy Dyomin

Mykola Kozyrev, human rights worker, Luhansk

Oleksy Svyetikov, human rights worker, Luhansk oblast

Oleksandr Bukalov, Donetsk Memorial

Andriy Didenko, Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Irma Krein

Anna Herashchenko, humanitarian programmes coordinator, Kharkiv 

Olha Zambon, private businesswoman, Germany

Oleksy Herashchenko, programmer, Kharkiv 

Dmytro Horbunov, programmer, Holland

Natalya Kozhyna, environmentalist

Serhiy Gorlyak, lawyer

Oleksandr Severyn, “Maidan Monitoring” Information Centre

Krzysztof Śledziński 

Ewa Sowa, lawyer

Mykhail Shkuro, businessman

Margarita Chukhriy

Kherson Regional NGO Right to Life

Larissa Fradkin, Emerita Professor, London South Bank University, Associated Professor, Brunel University

Vsevolod Afanasyev, British Antarctic Survey

Svitlana Rud, Centre for Legal Technology, Kramatorg

Halyna Mysyruk

Anatastasia Yakushyna

Kyrylo Bulkin, Director of the NGO MAMAI, writer, actor

Vitaly Pogosyan, head of the law firm Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners

Oksana Tomchuk, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners

S, Pogosyan, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners

N. Zhmailo, advocate, Pogosyan, Tomchuk and Partners

Anastasia Olkhovnikova, trainer

Y. S. Chernonog, Associate Professor of Commercial and Labour Law CI MAUP

Vadym Pyvovarov,   Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement [UMDPL]

Vasyl Sukov, Dnipropetrovsk Human Rights Group

Vitaly Podlobnikov

Maksym Butkevych, Without Borders Project

Antonina Kravchenko

Konstantin Reutsky, Postup Human Rights Centre

Ira Sydorenko

Vasyl Sydorenko, businessman

Svitlana Sydorenko

Lina Sydorenko

Andriy Sydorenko

Iryna Sharaeva

Tatyana Lysikova

Yelena Lysenko

Alina Akhrimova, businesswoman

Rolena Parkhomenko, social services worker

Yana Svyridenko

Volodymyr Khanas, Male Adaptation Centre, Ternopil

Volodymyr Shevchenko, Ternopil Human Rights Group

Lyudmila Koval, human rights worker

Viktor Tarasov, Chernihiv Public Committee for the Defence of Human Rights

Vladimir Fomitskiy

Arthur Fredekind, journalist, writer

Centre for Civil Liberties

Vladimir Azhyppo, police veteran

Andriy Duyko

Andriy Sapon

Serhiy Burov, M’ART

Dmytro Laba

Alexey Semyonov, USA, President, The Andrei Sakharov Foundation.

Maria Alekseyenko, Women’s Consortium of Ukraine 

Mykhail Zaitsev

Oleh Yashtulov, Donetsk

Yelena Volochai, NGO “For Professional Assistance”

Olena Lutyova, NGO “Aibolit”, Network of Public Advice Centres in the Crimea

Tetyana Pechonchyk

Yevhenia Zakrevska, Advocate

Larisa Polulyakh

Oleksandr Volodarsky

Yaroslav Movchan, Chief Editor Жива Україна Living Ukraine

Olena Hrushko

Volodymyr Kaplun, Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Petro Tanatarov

Svitlana Poberezhets, Vinnytsya Human Rights Group

Bohdan Bondarenko, lawyer, Luhansk Regional Committee of Voters of Ukraine

Olena Shostko

Carol Leborg

Gulnar Nazarova

Pavlo Khazan, Zeleny Svit / Friends of the Earth, Ukraine

Olha Holub

Oleksandr Stepanenko, Helsinki Initiative XXI

Ihor Chudnovsky

Natalya Sherbata, National Association of Women Advocates

Микола Коробко, ГО "Криворізьке міське правозахисне товариство"

Ирина Лех, частный предприниматель

Татьяна Жавжарова

Володимир Чабан, Інженер ТРК

Екатерина Ивченко, частный предприниматель

Наталя Камишникова, журналіст, Волинська організація "За права людини і демократію" .

Ukrainian version here

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