30.03.2016 | Halya Coynash

Russia’s elderly Ukrainian hostage refused treatment for cancer


Yury Soloshenko, the 73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner sentenced by a Russian court to 6 years imprisonment on absurd ‘spying’ charges has been moved from the prison medical unit to an ordinary cell.  The elderly Ukrainian is suffering from cancer and heart problems. 

In her annual report just published, Ella Panfilova, outgoing Human Rights Ombudsperson, asserted that Soloshenko was receiving “all necessary medical care”.  She did, nonetheless, recommend that President Vladimir Putin pardon him.  

There is no way that a person in Soloshenko’s condition can be receiving the necessary medical care in ordinary Russian prison conditions. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has issued a strong statement of protest and says that Russia is deliberately dragging out its consideration of the appeal for a pardon despite manifest humanitarian considerations and the direct threat to Soloshenko’s life.

The Ministry recently lodged a formal request for the extradition of Yury Soloshenko, as well as Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirniy, the four opponents of Russia’s annexation of Crimea sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for non-existent ‘terrorism’. 

Yury Soloshenko will be turning 74 at the beginning of May.  He has not seen his family and much loved grandchildren since he was seized on arriving in Moscow in August 2014. 

He was diagnosed with cancer very recently, however has been in poor health from the outset.  This did not prevent Putin from rejecting Soloshenko’s appeal for a pardon back in November last year. 

Zoya Svetova, a human rights activist with long experience of visiting Russian prisoners, has said that she had never seen such flagrant violation of Russia’s Constitution as in Soloshenko’s case. 

The most brazen abuse of his rights and of the law was seen in the situation with his lawyer.  He and his family had asked well-known human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov to represent him.  The Russian investigators clearly understood that Pavlov would defend his client and quite simply prevented him from seeing him. While all Pavlov’s efforts failed, Soloshenko was himself put under immense pressure to accept a ‘lawyer’ provided by the investigators. It seems clear that this lawyer, Gennady Blokhin encouraged him to ‘confess’, promising that he would be returned to Ukraine.

At a closed trial on Oct 14, the 73-year-old with no access to state secrets or Russian weapons, but also with no access to a proper lawyer, ‘confessed’ to the bizarre spying charges and was sentenced to 6 years maximum security prison.  The reason for a sentence much shorter than that demanded by the prosecution lay solely in Soloshenko’s age. 

Blokhin continued to talk about how Soloshenko would be extradited after the court trial, probably to ensure that Soloshenko did not appeal against the conviction. 

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.  

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.


Yury Soloshenko has written that the letters he receives are an enormous boost, helping him to endure “this monstrous injustice”   In a previous letter he wrote of his  longing for his Ukrainian homeland, his love of every blade of grass, every leaf, and his horror at a Russian justice system which is lavish with long prison sentences, with many, like him, totally innocent. 

If writing in Russian is a problem, write in simple English – hopefully the volunteers at the civic initiative RosUznik will be able to translate before sending your letter on to Yury Danylovych (his name and patronymic are good as a form of address). 

Just cut and paste his name as follows and send your letter to the email address

Солошенко Юрию Даниловичу  post.rozuznik[at]

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