Only Torture Rules In Russia’s Trial of Klykh & Karpyuk
Russian psychiatrists have claimed that Ukrainian Stanislav Klykh is fit to stand trial and court hearings at more intensive pace are scheduled to resume on Monday Feb 8. Clear signs of extreme psychological distress have proved as irrelevant to the Russian authorities, as alibis making the trial an absurdity, faulty historical facts and strong evidence to back allegations of torture. For the moment, the defence is making no comment on the psychiatrists’ report except to stress that they will be seeking an independent assessment.
Russia claims that Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpyuk took part in fighting in Chechnya 20 years ago and that during battles in Dec 1994 and Jan 1995 they killed a number of Russian soldiers. The case provoked a stream of humorous Internet posts back in September 2015 after Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, publicly asserted that the men had fought together with current Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and other prominent Ukrainians. All were alleged to have committed terrible atrocities. The Photoshop images of Yatsenyuk as a Chechen fighter were often funny, but ignored the chilling fact that Bastrykin was basing his allegations on ‘confessions’ tortured out of Klykh and Karpyuk who had been held incommunicado and without proper lawyers throughout the so-called ‘investigation’. .
Roman Oleksandruk, lawyer representing the two men’s interests from Ukraine, explained at a press conference on Feb 5 that Ukraine has sent documents to the Russian Investigative Committee. These include documentary proof, as well as witness testimony, confirming that both men were in Ukraine at the time of the alleged offences. As reported earlier, Karpyuk was known to have been looking after his dying mother, while Klykh was taking exams at university.
At this point, of course, the trial should be stopped and the two men, held illegally in Russia for almost 2 years, returned home. Unfortunately, Russia has already ignored Nadiya Savchenko’s unbreakable alibi for over 18 months, so optimism is difficult. In Savchenko’s case, the court has simply refused to add vital material from Ukraine to the court material.
It seems worryingly likely that the ‘investigators’ seriously believed that ‘confessions’ were sufficient to obtain the required convictions and long sentences for two supposed Ukrainian ‘nationalists’. They certainly failed to do even the most basic homework.
Of the 30 Russian soldiers whom Russia is claiming Karpyuk and Klykh killed, 18 died in another place altogether, and a further eleven were not killed by gunfire, as the prosecution claims. These are just some of a whole series of fundamental inaccuracies pointed out by the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre. Memorial has also accused the Russian investigators of cynical manipulation of the jury. It notes that the two men have not been charged with horrific acts of torture and murder despite the fact that both men ‘confessed’ to these. The confessions have, nonetheless, been included in the indictment. Memorial is convinced that this is precisely so that they can be read out and influence the jury, while not being charges which the defence can disprove. The human rights organization believes that the atrocities never took place, and adds this to the already considerable grounds for assuming that both Klykh and Karpyuk gave testimony under torture.
Karpyuk has been held in Russian captivity since March 2014 and only received access to a lawyer on the eve of the trial in September 2015. Klykh was held for 10 months before receiving a proper lawyer. Both men have retracted all testimony and described in detail the torture they were subjected to, including in applications to the European Court of Human Rights.
The fact that both men confessed to horrific crimes that never took place will surely be assessed correctly by the Court in Strasbourg, but there is also other evidence. Although the Russian forensic examinations have denied any evidence of the alleged torture, the men have noticeable scars on their bodies which were not recorded as present when they were first taken into custody.
In Klykh’s case, lawyers have unearthed medical records from 2014 confirming his torture allegations.
Klykh’s behaviour at recent court hearings is probably also of relevance, since he has previously asserted that he was given psychotropic drugs. At the first hearing after New Year on Jan 13, for example, Memorial HRC reported that Klykh shouted, stamped his feet, uttered incomprehensible and senseless phrases, shook the bars, knocked on them, and so forth.” He was reported to have complained of receiving telephone calls from different people in his cell, and had once become hysterical, convinced that his father had died in Kyiv. After a repeat of very disturbed behaviour on Jan 18, the court ordered a psychiatric examination.
Russia has refused to investigate the allegations of torture which is in itself a violation of the European Convention. Simple denial is scarcely enough when men have ‘confessed’ to heinous crimes in a part of the Russian Federation that neither had set foot in and retracted all evidence as soon as they received access to lawyers. And when the scars remain of the torture they suffered.
There was one speaker whose address was very brief. Tamara Klykh, Stanislav’s mother spoke for only a moment as it was difficult for her to talk without breaking down. She addressed an emotional appeal to Ukrainians and to the international community to help to free her son, and all innocent Ukrainians held in Russia and bring them home.
Please write to the men - even a single sentence or two will send an important message both to them, and to the Russian authorities, that they are not forgotten.
The addresses: Mykola Karpyuk (in Russian Nikolai)
364037, г. Грозный, Ленинский р-он, ул. Кунта-Хаджи Кишиева, 2. Следственный изолятор №1, Карпюку, Николаю (1964)
364037, г. Грозный, Ленинский р-он, ул. Кунта-Хаджи Кишиева, 2. Следственный изолятор №1, Клыху, Станиславу (1974)
Or send your letters to post.rozuznik[at]gmail.com, a civic initiative helping to get mail to Russian-held political prisoners They will deal with writing the envelope and sending it on. .
If you are unable to write in Russian, the following would be quite sufficient:
Желаем здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеемся на скорое освобождение.
(we wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released).