Russia takes revenge for Euromaidan by imprisoning and tormenting Ukrainian Maidan activists
There are several former Euromaidan activists among Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners, with two openly convicted on surreal charges linked with Maidan. It has long been assumed that the persecution of Oleksandr Kostenko and Andriy Kolomiyets was in revenge for Moscow’s failure to prevent Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, with this only confirmed by the measures taken to make Kostenko’s last weeks in prison as hellish as possible.
Kostenko was one of the first political prisoners ‘convicted’ by Russian-controlled courts in Crimea. If you ignore the fact that the charges were unprovable and pertained to alleged events in Kyiv over which Russia could have no jurisdiction, the sentence was relatively short. Application for early release on parole was, predictably, rejected, but now Russia cannot keep him imprisoned longer than 3 August 2018.
A member of the Kirov oblast Public Monitoring Commission [ONK] Denis Shadrin has reported that Kostenko was placed in a punishment cell [SHIZO] on 21 June. The grounds sound fabricated, however Kostenko could not deny them, as you get an extra 10 days punishment for objecting. Kostenko himself believes that the prison staff are finding any pretext to punish him before his release. The conditions in the SHIZO are particularly bad, and Kostenko is clearly near breaking point. He told Shadriin that he would be ready to made a suicide attempt in protest at the punishments being meted out.
Oleksandr Kostenko was recognized by the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre as a political prisoner in April 2015. The 32-year-old Ukrainian from Simferopol is a former police officer who took part in Euromaidan from December 2013.
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 tried in vain 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 had, it was claimed, deliberately aimed a cobble stone at V.V. Poliyenko, with this allegedly resulting in Poliyenko receiving an injury “in the form of a large haematoma on the left shoulder”.
Kostenko was supposed to have been motivated by “a feeling of ideological hatred and enmity to law enforcement officers”.
Since the Berkut officer had not been a Russian national in Feb 2014, there was no possibility of keeping Kostenko in detention and then imprisoning him. Kostenko was therefore later also accused of ‘unlawfully obtaining, keeping or carrying the main parts of a firearm’. The investigators claimed to have found a rifle barrel when searching his home. Not one of the official witnesses of the search have confirmed this. The investigators claimed that Kostenko’s father, Fedir Kostenko had identified the gun barrel as belonging to his son. They also claim, however, that it was Kostenko Senior who gave permission for the search. Fedir Kostenko disappeared shortly after this in circumstances which remain of the greatest concern.
The court ignored both the surreal absurdity of the indictment and Kostenko’s retraction of his initial ‘confession’. On May 15, 2015, judge Viktor Mozhelyansky from the Kievsky District Court in Simferopol found Kostenko guilty of both charges, and sentenced him to four years imprisonment. The sentence was later reduced to 3.5 years.
25-year-old Kolomiyets is from the Kyiv oblast, and was living in the North Caucasus with his partner, now wife Galina and her children when he was seized by local police on May 15, 2015, tortured, and then taken to Crimea.
There he was charged with ‘attempted murder’ of two Ukrainian Berkut officers during the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv. It was claimed that he had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the two Ukrainian officers which “caused them pain”. They had never made any complaint at the time, nor sought medical treatment, yet two and a half years later they both claimed that they remembered Kolomiyets and “their pain”. 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”.
As with Kostenko, a second charge was thrown in – this time of allegedly transporting hashish, with the investigators making no effort to render the story credible.
Kolomiyets was sentenced to 6 years on the ‘attempted murder’ charges and 4 years over the hashish charge. He is imprisoned in the Krasnodar region.
The Memorial Human Rights Centre also declared Kolomiyets a political prisoner. It dismissed the first charges as something Russia has no jurisdiction over, and believes it likely that the hashish was planted.
Please write to Andriy Kolomiyets. His sentence is long, and the letters are an important message to him, and to Moscow, that he is 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, maybe with a picture or photo. 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.
350039 Russia, Krasnodar Krai, Krasnodar, 58 Kalinin St, Prison Colony No. 14
Kolomiyets, Andrei Vladimirovych, born 1993
[In Russian: ФКУ ИК-14, 350039 Россия, Краснодарский край, г.Краснодар, ул. Калинина, 58, Коломийцу, Андрею Владимировичу, г.р. 1993]