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03.12.2018 | Halya Coynash

Ukrainian gets 13-year ‘sentence’ for annoying friend of Russia-backed Luhansk militants

Roman Sahaiduk (right)
   

Roman Sahaidak has been ‘sentenced’ in the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ to 13 years’ imprisonment with full confiscation of his property. It seems likely that the confiscation was the main point of his abduction and ‘prosecution’ and, possibly, that of his father, who was seized 15 months later.  Sahaidak was finally convicted of armed robbery, however the ‘trial’ appears to have begun on radically different charges of working for Ukraine’s Security Service [SBU] and planning terrorist attacks, and there have been other quite different versions. There is nothing at all to indicate that any of the charges were backed by anything as banal as proof, and one of the earliest attempts was the charge of planning a terrorist attack on 7 July 2017, although Sahaidak had been seized a week earlier and held in an LPR cellar. He has now been in militant captivity for almost a year and a half, and has reportedly faced repeated torture and beatings. His health has seriously deteriorated as a result, however the so-called ‘LPR ministry of state security’ and other bodies are ignoring his family’s request that he receive medical treatment.

His family had also been constantly terrorised and put under pressure until this culminated on 15 October in the abduction of Roman’s father, Oleksandr from outside the family home. 

He too is understood to have been subjected to beating and torture, however it was only confirmed that he was being held in the cellars of the so-called ‘LPR ministry of state security’ a full month after he was taken away.

Roman Sahaidak is a Krasnodon entrepreneur whose problems began soon after he refused to sell his part of the business to his then business partner, Oleksandr Ryasnoy.  The latter had offered a very bad deal and, according to his sister, Sahaidak was also wary of Ryasnoy, in part for his willingness to denounce people to the so-called ‘ministry of state security.  They had apparently agreed, around two weeks before Sahaidak was seized, that they would no longer work together.

The then 29-year-old was stopped on June 30, 2017 by armed men in military gear who forced him into their car. 

The following day, men saying that they were ‘from the ‘LPR ministry of state security’ appeared at his flat and carried out a search, taking away everything that could be removed.  The same thing happened at the home of his parents.

His parents later turned to this so-called LPR ministry and were told that nobody knew anything and that he was not on the list of people detained.  The militants did, however, hint that he could be in the “ministry of state security’s internal security service’ which is subordinate only to Moscow.

As is often the case when people are taken hostage, his family initially tried to keep silent, fearing that any publicity could place his life in danger.  The young man’s sister, Anna Slastnikova believed, on the contrary, that it would be better if his plight was reported, and approached the media.

Her brother had been living in Luhansk, and it was the person he rented premises with who first alerted his parents to what had happened.

The family found witnesses who reported that four masked men and a man in civilian clothes had driven up with machine guns at around 16.00, put a bag over his head and pushed him into the car before driving off.

It seems that Ryasnoy had a relative in the so-called ‘LPR ministry’ whom he turned to after not getting his way regarding sale of the business.

Ryasnoy also appeared the next day during the ‘searches’ and told Roman’s father that his son would be released if they came up with 20 thousand dollars. 

Slastnikova says that her father could only raise 16 thousand which he handed over, while asking for extra time to find the rest.  Ryasnoy took the 16 thousand but said he couldn’t wait for the rest, and they therefore wouldn’t see their son again.

It may be that the publicity did help, since Sahaidak’s parents were phoned from the ‘LPR ministry’, who agreed to show them their son who had, as mentioned, been very badly beaten, but was at least alive.

As mentioned, they initially tried to charge him with a terrorist act that took place a week after he was seized. Here, as over his initial disappearance, it was the publicity that made the ‘LPR ministry’ understand that such charges were too hopelessly flawed.  They later began accusing him of ‘fraud’ or, alternatively, ‘extortion’ with respect to Ryasnoy. 

The family had immense trouble finding a lawyer.  As soon as lawyers learn that the case involves a person held by ‘LPR ‘ministry of state security’, they refuse to have anything to do with it. 

Sahaidak has long been on Ukraine’s list of hostages to be exchanged, however there has long been no progress in securing the release of well over 100 prisoners of war and civilian hostages.

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