Russia awards Ukrainian political prisoner $15 ’compensation’ for torture & wrongful imprisonment
Abducted from hospital, savagely tortured and held in Russian detention for 10 months on totally fictitious ‘war crimes’ charges, Serhiy Lytvynov has been awarded ‘compensation’ - all of 1 thousand roubles [roughly15 US dollars] worth. Not surprisingly, Lytvynov’s lawyer, Viktor Parshutkin has described Moscow’s Basmanny Court ruling as absolutely outrageous, and has promised that it will be appealed.
Lytvynov is a cowherd from the Luhansk oblast in Ukraine who in August 2014 had the misfortunate to cross the border into Russia’s Rostov region to get treatment for a severe tooth inflammation. He had no choice since Kremlin-backed militants had seized control of the territory where alternative hospitals inside Ukraine were located.
While recuperating in hospital, Lytvynov was noticed by some Russian or pro-Russian militants who decided that Lytvynov, presumably by virtue of being Ukrainian, should be ‘reported’. He was seized from the hospital and viciously tortured into signing ‘confessions’ to multiple war crimes which he was supposed to have committed as a member of the Dnipro volunteer battalion.
The Investigative Committee’s announcement of the charges against Lytvynov on Oct 1 2014 make it clear that his trial was supposed to be used as ‘proof’ of Ukraine’s “‘genocide against the Russian-speaking population in Donbas”.
Lytvynov was accused of having personally carried out murders of civilians, including women and children. The Investigative Committee even demonstrated a video with Lytvynov ‘confessing’. This was widely, and without any restraint, reported by the Russian media, with Lytvynov everywhere presented as a monstrous war criminal.
Lytvynov was only later given access to a proper lawyer, and immediately explained that his ‘confessions’ had been extracted through torture. Parshutkin succeeded in proving that the impugned war crimes had never taken place and could not have since neither the alleged victims, nor their addresses, actually existed. He also demonstrated that Lytvynov, who has learning difficulties, had simply signed the ‘confessions’ put in front of him.
There are no ’and then justice prevailed and he lived happily ever after’ stories in Russia. Lytvynov had already been in custody for almost a year and, after all the hype and publicity over fictitious war crimes, the investigators had no intention of simply releasing him. Immediately after the Investigative Committee was forced to withdraw the other charges, a Russian national, Alexander Lysenko, suddenly appeared and claimed that Lytvynov, together with two unidentified Ukrainian soldiers, had robbed him in Ukraine at gunpoint. Lytvynov was supposed to have burst into a house, armed with a machine gun, beaten up Lysenko and stolen two cars.
There was literally no proof of Lysenko having entered Ukraine legally. While the cars did exist, neither was registered as belonging to Lysenko and one had long been scrap metal when it was supposed to have been ‘stolen’ (more details here).
There was virtually no attempt to make the charges seem plausible and every aspect of this new ‘case’ was demolished in court, yet Lytvynov was still sentenced to 8.5 years’ imprisonment. That sentence was upheld by the appeal court, and Lytvynov has thus remained imprisoned.
The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre responded by declaring Lytvynov a political prisoner and demanding his immediate release.
Lytvynov – and Ukraine – were fortunate that Parshutkin took on Lytvynov’s case, and not only because of his success in proving that the ‘war crimes’ were fiction. He has also used Russia’s own laws on compensation to demand what Lytvynov is legally due – a formal apology and compensation.
In July this year he filed the suit for Lytvynov’s compensation over his imprisonment from Aug 22, 2014 to July 8, 2015, and the torture he had been subjected to. The legal document notes that, although the torturers’ identity has not been established, the fact of the torture is not disputed.
Parshutkin therefore demanded for his client 1 million roubles in compensation for the wrongful imprisonment and 2 million over the torture. The respondents were the Russian Finance Ministry; the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The Basmanny Court in Moscow is notorious for politically motivated rulings. At the hearing on Nov 15, it could not dispute the justification for the suit, since there are documents confirming that Lytvynov was wrongfully imprisoned and tortured, so it tried to squash the suit through a totally symbolic amount of compensation.
This is not merely, or even primarily, about an amount of money. Even according to Russian legislation, Lytvynov was a victim of a miscarriage of justice from August 2014 until July the following year. Russia only then fabricated entirely new charges and is hoping nobody will notice.
Publicity is therefore vital.
Please write to Serhiy Lytvynov! Your letters will tell him, and the Russian authorities, that he is not forgotten.
Even just the following, maybe with a nice photo or picture, would be sufficient.
Желаю Вам крепкого здоровья, мужества и терпения и надеюсь на скорое освобождение.
[Hello, Serhiy, with best wishes for good health, courage and patience. I hope that you will soon be released].
Address (just copy-paste, Lytvynov’s name is at the end, with his year of birth which is required)
ФКУ-15 ГУФСИН по Ростовской области
346880 Ростовская область, г. Батайск, ул. Максима Горького, д.356
Литвинову Сергею Николаевичу, 1983 г. р.