Russian INTERPOL sought arrest of Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister using ‘confessions’ from tortured political prisoners
The appointment of Alexander Prokopchuk as Head of INTERPOL would not just have meant that member states were willing to ignore numerous high-profile political Red Notices under Prokopchuk’s leadership of the Russian National Bureau of INTERPOL. It would have also demonstrated terrifying disregard for the horrific torture used to fabricate such politically-motivated prosecutions.
Russia’s arrest warrant in March 2017 against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and its aborted attempt to get INTERPOL involved in trying to secure his arrest gained headlines in the media, but mainly elicited humour. The charges against Yatsenyuk of having fought against Russian federal forces in Chechnya 23 years earlier, when he was a 20-year-old law student in Ukraine, were evidently absurd. Even when he was stopped at Geneva Airport on the evening on December 23, 2017, because of a Russian arrest warrant, it took the Swiss authorities all of ten minutes to assess and dismiss any grounds for handing him over to Russia.
The ‘grounds’ presented, however, were concocted from the ‘testimony’ of two Ukrainians abducted in 2014, held incommunicado and mercilessly tortured for ‘confessions’ to heinous crimes that had never taken place. Mykola Karpyuk and Stanyslav Klykh have been in Russian captivity since then, serving 22- and 20-year sentences, respectively, after what has been called “Russia’s most monstrously falsified trial of Ukrainian citizens since it’s annexation of Crimea”.
Even without the fact that both Karpyuk and Klykh retracted their ‘confessions’ as soon as they were finally allowed to see lawyers and described the torture they had been subjected to, Russian INTERPOL could have had no illusions about the nature of the charges against them and, therefore, against Yatsenyuk and a number of other prominent Ukrainian politicians.
The Russian arrest warrant against Yatsenyuk, issued on March 27, 2017, was on charges identical to those brought against Klykh and Karpyuk of supposed involvement in the fighting in Chechnya against Russian federal forces in late 1994 and early 1995. They included: taking part in a gang and its attacks; the murder of two or more people in connection with their carrying of official duty, and attempts to commit such murder (multiple parts of Articles 209 and 102 of the Russian criminal code, and 102 of the Russian SSR criminal code).
It was claimed then that Yatsenyuk had been placed on ‘the international wanted list’ on Feb 21, 2017, with this normally referring to Interpol’s issuance of a Red Notice. In fact, Russia’s request for such a Red Notice in Yatsenyuk’s case was reportedly rejected as being politically motivated.
The first public claim that Yatsenyuk, who was then Ukraine’s Prime Minister, had fought in Chechnya came in September 2015 in an interview given by the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin. The latter treated the purported involvement of Yatsenyuk and other prominent Ukrainians as established fact and claimed that Yatsenyuk had tortured and murdered Russian soldiers. The claim was so absurd, the photoshopped images of Yatsenyuk as a Chechen fighter so hilarious, that many disregarded the more menacing aspect of the allegations, namely the torture needed to extract such surreal ‘confessions.
Both Klykh and Karpyuk were effectively abducted after being tricked into coming to Russia and then held totally incommunicado, Karpyuk for 18 months, until the eve of the ‘trial’, Klykh for ten months.
Klykh is a historian from Kyiv who was taken prisoner in August 2014 after going to the Oryol oblast in Russia to see a woman he’d met the previous year in Crimea. If Karpyuk, as a politician closely involved in two nationalist organizations, was an obvious target for Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine, Klykh’s link to any nationalist group was fleeting and far in the past.
The case was immensely cynical, and not only because of the number of Russian soldiers and state-sponsored mercenaries killing Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas. The ‘investigators’, prosecutors and court showed total disregard for the weighty evidence that both Karpyuk and Klykh had been in Ukraine during the period in question and that the ‘confessions’ they had given had been extracted through torture.
Russia claimed that Klykh (b. 1974) and Karpyuk (b. 1964) had, together with Yatsenyuk and other prominent Ukrainian politicians, taken part in battles in Chechnya in Dec 1994 and Jan 1995, carried out all kinds of atrocities and killed 30 Russian soldiers. Karpyuk, who was the deputy head of Right Sector and member of the older Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian Peoples’ Self Defence (UNA UNSO) was accused of creating and leading a band called ‘Viking’. Klykh, who had once briefly been a member of UNA-UNSO while at university, was supposed to have taken part in it.
The case was entirely based on their ‘confessions’ extracted while being held incommunicado and without proper lawyers, and those of Oleksandr Malofeyev, a man already serving a 24-year sentence and easily ‘influenced’ by the threat of withholding life-saving medication. The shocking accounts of the torture which Klykh and Karpyuk suffered are part of applications to the European Court of Human Rights.
What was positively Stalinist in this case was the degree to which the clash with provable historical facts was disregarding. The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has followed both Russia’s wars in Chechnya and was therefore well-placed to assess the prosecution’s case. In a four-part analysis, it demolished the entire indictment and left no doubt about the methods that had been used to extract insane ‘confessions’ to heinous crimes supposedly committed together with Yatsenyuk & Co. The methods included threats to apply the same torture to Karpyuk’s wife and small child.
In its analysis, Memorial HRC demonstrated that the indictment contained fictitious crimes, and of the 30 Russian soldiers who really had died, 18 were killed in another place altogether, and a further eleven were not killed by gunfire, as the prosecution claimed.
It was on the basis of this devastating assessment of the charges that in February 2016 Memorial declared both men political prisoners.
On May 26, 2016, Judge Vakhit Ismailov at the court in Grozny sentenced Karpyuk to 22.5 years, Klykh to 20 years, with this later upheld by the Supreme Court.
PLEASE WRITE TO MYKOLA KARPYUK AND STANISLAV KLYKH!
Even a single sentence or two will send an important message both to them, and to the Russian authorities, that they are not forgotten.
Mykola Karpyuk (please use the Russian version Nikolai, it has much more chance of passing the censor, the year of birth is needed)
Russian Federation 600020, Vladimir, No. 67 Bolshaya Nizhegorodskaya St., Prison No. 2 Vladimirsky Tsentral
Nikolai Andronovych Karpyuk, b. 1964
[In Russian: 600020 г. Владимир, ул Большая Нижегородская, д. 67, ФКУ Т-2 Владимирский централ, Карпюку, Николаю Андроновичу, г.р. 1964]
Russia has provided no clear information of any change in Klykh’s status, and for the moment we must assume that the following address is still current.
Russian Federation 457670, Chelyabinsk oblast, Verkhneuralsk, 1 Severnaya St, Prison for the Chelyabinsk oblast
Stanislav Romanovych Klykh, b. 1974
[In Russian: 457670, Челябинская обл., Верхнеуральск, Северная ул. 1, ФКУ Тюрьма ГУФСИН по Челябинской обл.
Клыху, Станиславу Романовичу, г.р. 1974]
If you are unable to write in Russian, the following would be quite sufficient (maybe with a picture or postcard)
Желаем здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеемся на скорое освобождение. Мы о Вас помним.
(we wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released. You are not forgotten.)*
More details about the Memorial analysis here: