03.12.2015 | Halya Coynash

Russia is killing 73-year-old Ukrainian hostage Yury Soloshenko


Yury Soloshenko is not Russia’s only Ukrainian hostage, tried and convicted on absurd charges, but he is the only one who has been issued a death sentence.  The 73-year-old pensioner from Poltava, who has a heart condition, is certain that he will not survive even the arduous journey to a Russian prison colony.  Human rights activist Zoya Svetova clearly agrees, calling his situation one of life or death. 

“We were almost in tears as we said goodbye.  Earlier he hoped to be exchanged, but today he told me: “Ukraine won’t exchange me, after all I’m in no way a spy. I didn’t do anything against Russia”.

Russia’s elderly hostage has been held in detention since August 2014, and was fed lies about an exchange, suspended sentence or similar if he just ‘cooperated’.  Those lies were told by the state-appointed lawyer whom Soloshenko was forced to accept after the investigators literally prevented Ivan Pavlov, the human rights lawyer he and his family had chosen, from meeting with his client. 

In a closed trial on Oct 14, on charges that have still not been disclosed,  the 73-year-old with no access to state secrets or Russian weapons was sentenced to 6 years maximum security prison colony. 

Svetova visited Soloshenko several times, and wrote back in April that in all her years of visiting remand prisoners, she had never seen such flagrant violation of Russia’s Constitution as in the case of Yury Soloshenko.  

In all her reports, it was clear that Soloshenko denies any ‘spying’ or illegal activities, and this would doubtless have been the position taken in court had he not illegally been deprived of proper legal defence.  Instead, he was pressured into rejecting Ivan Pavlov and his team, and the state-appointed lawyer Gennady Blokhin reports that Soloshenko ‘confessed to spying for Ukraine’.  After the trial Blokhin said that he would not be appealing against the sentence, and suggested that Soloshenko could be extradited to Ukraine.  Earlier, Svetova reported, Soloshenko had obviously been promised a suspended sentence.

The FSB Press Service claimed  that Soloshenko had been arrested by the FSB in August 2014 in Moscow “when trying to illegally purchase secret components for S-300 surface to air missile systems. He was acting on behalf of the State enterprise “Generator Factory” and the “Skies of Ukraine” Corporation, and the items which were to be bought were intended for reinstating Ukraine’s air defence system”. 

Soloshenko’s son Vladislav earlier called the charges insane nonsense  He believes that his father who has long been retired was simply tricked into coming to Moscow.  A former colleague insisted on him coming for a business meeting connected with buying and selling equipment.  When he arrived on Aug 5, 2014, and went to the place arranged, he was immediately seized by FSB officers.

Soloshenko is the retired director of the long-bankrupt Poltava-based Znamya factory which once specialized in high-frequency electro vacuum lamps used in anti-aircraft warfare.  The factory had always depended for its survival on orders from Russia, meaning that there was nothing secret between the two countries, with it all a single system.  

Secrecy only goes so far and the facts are against Moscow.  An elderly man in ill-health has been tormented, tricked into allowing the prosecution to deprive him of real defence, and he is now being treated in a way that places his life in the gravest danger.  

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