Health Concerns for Ukrainian Serving Insane Sentence as Russia’s Revenge for Maidan
Andriy Kolomiyets, one of the two Ukrainians whom Russia has imprisoned on fabricated charges linked with Euromaidan, has reported worrying symptoms and asked for medical tests. There are grounds for concern as the other Ukrainian Oleksandr Kostenko has been persistently denied treatment for a serious injury inflicted by the FSB after his arrest.
Kolomiyets’ wife Galina reports that her husband’s formal application for an examination refers to recurrent bad headaches, nausea, spots before his eyes, pain at the back of the head and other symptoms. He speaks of spots which first appeared when he was arrested, and have now spread all over his body, itching and sometimes emitting pus.
23-year-old Kolomiyets was the second Ukrainian to be arrested on legally nihilistic charges which were not only unprovable, but concerned events over which Russia could have no jurisdiction. His arrest was effectively proof that any Ukrainian who had taken part in Euromaidan was in danger of arrest and torture if they went to Russia or Crimea under Russian occupation.
The young man, who is from Kyiv oblast, was arrested in the Northern Caucuses on May 15, 2015, where he was living with Galina and her four children.
When officers turned up on May 15, the first thing they said to Galina was that Kolomiyets was a Maidan activist. During the search, they found a small package with some hashish in her ex-husband’s safe. New testimony was presented at the last court hearing which confirms that Kolomiyets did not have access to that safe.
The story with the ‘drugs’ that Kolomiyets is accused of possessing is absurdly implausible. Galina understood not to touch the planted ‘evidence’ and the police were finally forced to leave without recording the hashish in the protocol. This was witnessed by a woman who was staying in their place.
The prosecution then claimed that Kolomiyets had been ‘released’ in Nalchik where he was supposed to have stayed the night at the station, then gone to some field by one taxi, gathered some hashish growing wild, 150 grams of which the officers then ‘found’ in another taxi that he was driving in.
The charges over Maidan were laid shortly after those for “possession of drugs in a large quantity.
Kolomiyets was charged with ‘attempted murder’ of two Ukrainian (Crimean) Berkut riot police officers during Euromaidan in Kyiv. It was claimed that he had thrown a Molotov cocktail at two Berkut officers who had switched allegiance after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, but who were at the time only citizens of Ukraine. This alleged action had ‘caused them pain’. Enough ‘pain’ to allow them in court to claim that they remembered Kolomiyets, though not enough for them to have reported it to anybody at the time. The prosecution was under Article 30 § 3 and 105 § 2 of the Russian Criminal Code, namely “attempted murder of 2 or more people in connection with their official activities … out of motives of political and ideological hatred”.
Despite the overt nonsense of these charges, Kolomiyets was sentenced on June 10, 2016 to 10 years’ maximum security prison, including 6 years for causing supposedly memorable, though at no time recorded, “pain”.
The authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared Kolomiyets a political prisoner. There has been no attempt to investigate his detailed allegations of torture.
There are several similarities to the earlier arrest and ‘trial’ of Oleksandr Kostenko, a former police officer who took part in Euromaidan from the beginning. He was arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea on Feb 5, 2015, and savagely tortured for over 24 hours before the officially recorded time of arrest. The injuries he sustained included a broken arm which has never been properly treated, and he is now in danger of losing any movement in that arm.
The only ‘lawyer’ present was one appointed by the investigators, and a ‘confession’ was obtained from Kostenko, as well as a statement that he had been beaten on the street by unidentified individuals.
Kostenko retracted all such ‘confessions’ as soon as he was able to see to a real lawyer, and his real lawyer, Dmitry Sotnikov has since repeatedly endeavoured to get criminal investigations initiated over both the initial torture, and ongoing ill-treatment of his client while he was held in detention.
Kostenko was charged with slightly injuring a Ukrainian Berkut officer in Kyiv on Feb 18, 2014. He was supposed to have been motivated by “a feeling of ideological hatred and enmity to law enforcement officers”. He was also accused of unlawfully possessing a gun barrel. The only person who allegedly witnessed this and identified the barrel as belonging to Kostenko, was Oleksandr’s father Fedir Kostenko. He disappeared shortly after this in circumstances which remain of the greatest concern. Kostenko was found guilty of both charges, and sentenced to four years imprisonment, later reduced to 3.5 years. Memorial HRC considers him also a political prisoner.
Please write to Andriy Kolomiyets and Oleksandr Kolchenko. Any letters are an important message to them – and to Moscow – that they are not forgotten. Letters need to be in Russian, and on totally ‘innocuous’ subjects. If that is a problem, please just copy-paste the message below. Letters need to weigh no more than 100 g. or they simply won’t be delivered, and it’s a good idea to give your return address, since they may well want to reply.
Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение.
Мы о Вас помним.
[Hello, I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released. You are not forgotten.
Andriy Kolomiyets (just copy and paste the address below)
350039, Краснодарский край, г. Краснодар, ул. Калинина, д. 58,
ФКУ ИК-14 УФСИН России по Краснодарскому краю,
Коломийцу Андрею Владимировичу, 1993 г. р.
613049 Russia, Kirov oblast, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Prison Colony No. 5, Ovranzhnaya St, 16
(ФКУ ИК-5, ул. Овражная 16, г. Кирово-Чепецк, Кировская область, 613049 Россия)
Костенко Александру Федоровичу,