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No Defence, No Mercy for Russias Oldest Ukrainian Hostage

03.05.16 | Halya Coynash

Show Yury Soloshenko that hes not forgotten on his 74th birthday and help put pressure on Russia to free him (and all the other Ukrainians its illegally imprisoning) The address and a suggested greeting are given at the bottom. Any letters, cards, and images of Spring will mean a lot to him!

Russia has rejected a pardon application from 73-year-old Yury Soloshenko, who was deprived of legal defence in Russia and then tricked into pleading guilty to spying he could not have committed.

It is Russian President Vladimir Putin who has the sole right to pardon prisoners. According to Zoya Svetova, it is a right who has used very little, but in this case there was a direct recommendation from the outgoing Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson. Ella Panfilova, in her last, 2015, report recommended that in view of Soloshenkos age, his state of health and his confession, that the President pardon him.

The procedure from application is long, and passed first to the Nizhny Novgorod pardoning committee. There it stopped, since despite Soloshenkos age and numerous health issues, including recently diagnosed cancer, the commission rejected the application.

Yury Soloshenko, as earlier reported, first wrote directly to Putin at the Presidents Administration. It was returned, supposedly because the procedure had been infringed. It seems that the application was never before rejected as such, it was simply sent here and there. Svetova reports that it finally reached the commission in Nizhny Novgorod who on April 20 found no grounds for a pardon.

Svetova has published Soloshenkos letter to the President on Open Russia, saying that perhaps in this way, it will reach Putin. The letter is now a little out of date, since, as well as a serious heart condition, Soloshenko also has cancer, though the prison nonetheless returned him from the prison hospital to a normal cell where the conditions would be difficult for a man half his age and in good health.

Soloshenko is, at least in theory, included in extradition procedure which Russia has claimed to have initiated with respect to his application and that of recognized political prisoners Nadiya Savchenko; Oleg Sentsov; Oleksandr Kolchenko and Gennady Afanasyev. It is just possible that the procedure has been initiated to enable a face-saving exchange in the near future. If the extradition procedure goes ahead at normal pace, it could take many months before the documents are before the court which, according to the Russian justice ministry, is supposed to have the final say.

Nobody is under any illusion as to who will really decide whether Russias Ukrainian hostages are returned to Ukraine.

For Yury Soloshenko, in particular, time is critical. He wants nothing more than to return to Ukraine, to his wife who is in poor health and needs him, and to his grandchildren and a great-grandchild born while he was in captivity.

As reported here, Svetova has huge experience of visiting prisoners held in Russia, including many political prisoners. She wrotein April 2015 that in those years, she had never seen such flagrant violation of Russias Constitution as in Soloshenkos case. The most cynical abuse of his rights was seen in the situation with his lawyer. He and his family had asked well-known human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov to represent him, yet, in total breach of the law, Pavlov was prevented from seeing him. While all Pavlovs efforts failed, Soloshenko was himself put under immense pressure to accept a lawyer provided by the investigators. It was this lawyer, Gennady Blokhin who encouraged him to confess, promising that he would be returned to Ukraine.

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, however, claimed and a Russian court acceptedthat Soloshenko had been in August 2014 in Moscow when trying to illegally purchase secret components for S-300 surface to air missile systems which were supposed to reinstate Ukraines air defence system.

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 Soloshenkos age.


Yury Soloshenko is turning 74 on May 6. In an earlier letter, he wrote of how much he loves Spring:

I look at the bright Spring sun through the window grating and feel an aching pain that I am spending yet another Spring in prison when so few in any case remain.

Please send cards and photos with images of Spring and / or letters to Yury Danylovych (this is his name and patronymic which is good as a form of address).

Letters in Russian are much more likely to get through. If that is a problem, even the following message would be appreciated.

! ., , , .

(Happy Birthday! I wish you good health and patience and hope that you will soon be back home, in Ukraine, where you are much missed!)

The address can be in either Russian or English

603950 . , . , 2 , -5.

, 1942 ..

Russian Federation, 603950 Nizhny Novgorod, Raketnaya St, 2D, Colony-5

Soloshenko, Yury Danylovych, b. 1942

see also:
Russias elderly Ukrainian hostage refused treatment for cancer
Putins Death Sentence for Russias Oldest Ukrainian Hostage
Moving letter from Russias Oldest Ukrainian Hostage
Russia is killing 73-year-old Ukrainian hostage Yury Soloshenko
Russia sentences 73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner to 6 years for spying
Mystery Trial begins of Russias Elderly Ukrainian Hostage
Worse than the Cold War: Russias FSB torments elderly Ukrainian hostage
Moscows Kafkaesque Ukrainian Spy Cases
Moscow shouts abduction yet holds Ukrainian hostages incommunicado
Russia holds 72-year-old Ukrainian hostage on absurd spying charges
Russian mother of 7 stands by her warning about Russian soldiers in Ukraine