Tortured and jailed for 10 years as Kremlin’s revenge for Euromaidan in Ukraine
Oleksandr Kostenko served a three and a half-year sentence to the last day. Andriy Kolomiyets was less lucky. By the time they came for him, the ‘ground’ had been tested and appetite for repression whetted. He received a 10-year sentence, mostly over unprovable charges related to events over which Russia had absolutely no jurisdiction. Despite the surreal insanity of the so-called ‘trial’, Kolomiyets remains in a Russian prison to this day.
Kolomiyets, who is now 25, has spent over three years in Russian captivity. The young man, who is from Kyiv oblast was arrested in the Northern Caucuses of Russia on May 15, 2015, where he was living with his partner (now wife) 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. Whether or not the hashish was there before the officers arrived, testimony was presented to the court which confirmed that Kolomiyets had not had any access to the safe.
Fortunately, 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. ‘
Even if one could believe for a second that the officers had released him, there was no reason for Kolomiyets to have stayed the night at the station, since Galina has three sisters living in Nalchik who would have happily put him up. She believes that in all of this the same packet first ‘found’ in her ex-husband’s safe has been used.
The above charge was used as the pretext for arresting Kolomiyets, however it was no accident that the officer mentioned Maidan at the outset. Kolomiyets was taken to Russian-occupied Crimea where he became the second Maidan activist to be charged on the basis of ‘testimony’ from former Ukrainian Berkut riot police who had betrayed their oath and joined the Russian FSB.
It was claimed that Kolomiyets had thrown a Molotov cocktail at two Berkut officers, with this having allegedly ‘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 absurdity of the charges, he was sentenced by a Russian-controlled court in Simferopol on 10 June 2016 to 10 years’ imprisonment: six years for the alleged ‘attack’ on the two ex-Berkut turncoats (Article 105 of the Russian criminal code), and four for the supposed possession of hashish (Article 228).
The sentence was upheld on October 27 by the de facto Crimean High Court under ‘judge’ Halyna Redko who had already taken part in at least one other politically-motivated trial since betraying her oath to Ukraine.
Kolomiyets has given harrowing, though unfortunately, familiar, details of the torture he was subjected to, including electric shocks and asphyxiation, to force him to ‘confess’ to invented crimes. He had provided such information from the outset, but the ‘lawyers’ provided by the supposed investigators during the first months did not want to know.
The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre declared Kolomiyets a political prisoner on 17 July 2016. It demolished the narcotics charges against the young man, while stating simply that the main indictment was grotesque since a court under Russian legislation could have no jurisdiction over events allegedly taking place between Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine.
Kolomiyets is serving this insane sentence in a Krasnodar prison which it takes his wife 11 hours to reach. During a recent visit from the Ukrainian consul, during which several prison officers were not only present, but videoed everything, Kolomiyets passed on his thanks to all those concerned for his fate.
He did, however, mention that he had not received any letters for a long time. These letters are a lifeline to all political prisoners. They also provide an important message to Moscow that the men are not forgotten.
Andriy Kolomiyets’ address
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]
Letters need to be in Russian. If this is a problem, you could simply copy-paste the letter below, maybe with a photo or picture.
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.