Kremlin’s Ukrainian political prisoners ordered to pay a million in ‘compensation’ for invented crimes
Ukrainian political prisoners Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh are being charged penalties for non-payment of the one million roubles a Russian court has ordered them to pay in ‘compensation’ for deaths they had nothing to do with. This is just the latest grotesque twist to what has been called Russia’s “most monstrously falsified trial of Ukrainians”. It comes at a time when concerns about Klykh’s mental health after the torture he endured are compounded by worries that he may be suffering from cancer.
Lawyer Ilya Novikov has just returned from visiting Karpyuk in prison. He reports that Karpyuk is avidly following and very happy about the moves towards Ukrainian Church unity and independence. He suggests that it is Karpyuk’s faith that has prevented him from being brutalized by the almost five years that have passed since he was abducted by Russian enforcement bodies, savagely tortured and finally put through a surreal trial. That may well be a major factor, however it is probably also important that Karpyuk was seized back in March 2014 because of his position in the Ukrainian nationalist movement. Knowing why you were targeted can in no way justify the torture and torment suffered over almost 18 months held in total isolation, but it does make him feel like a soldier imprisoned as part of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Klykh, on the other hand, is a historian from Kyiv, whose dabbling in nationalism was fleeting and far in the past. It was initially assumed that he had been seized by the FSB in August 2014 because another Ukrainian was required for the same ‘nationalist show trial’ as that planned for Karpyuk. While that may well be the case, there are grounds for suspecting that he was tricked by a woman into coming to Russia and promptly disappeared. He was held incommunicado for 10 months, given psychotropic drugs and, like Karpyuk, tortured into ‘confessing’ to heinous crimes he could not possibly have committed. Concerns were expressed about Klykh’s mental state were expressed as soon as he was finally allowed to see a proper lawyer, and led to the European Court of Human Rights recently demanding information from the Russian authorities about the treatment he is receiving.
Although it seems he is now being sent for medical tests, there is nothing to suggest that the Russian authorities are providing proper medical treatment. Quite the contrary, since the torment that Klykh was subjected to is continuing, albeit without the savage torture of those first 10 months,
Novikov speaks of Karpyuk having been ordered to pay one million roubles, though, if this was the ruling reported in April this year, then that amount was to be split between the two men. As reported earlier, there is no question that the men, whom Russia has been illegally holding prisoner since 2014, could possibly pay that amount. It is, however, increasing with the new ‘penalties for non-payment’. Since court bailiffs have recently presented Karpyuk with a bill for such penalties of 70 thousand roubles, it is probable that this is in connection with civil suits officially lodged by Zinaida Nikolayeva, whose conscript son was killed in Chechnya during the storming of Grozny on 31 December 1994. One claim was against a third Ukrainian - Oleksandr Malofeyev - serving a long sentence on unrelated criminal charges, and then the initial claim against Klykh and Karpyuk in September 2017, which awarded much lower figures. Nikolayeva appealed against the September ruling, demanding 5 million roubles in compensation. The panel of judges at the Sverdlovsk Regional Court, under presiding judge Angela Karpinskaya, awarded one million, with each man supposed to pay half.
Russian human rights activist Gleb Ehdelev was present at the court hearing on 20 April. Judging by the file material, he says, the young conscript was killed three times: first by Oleksandr Malofeyev, then by Klykh and finally by Karpyuk. It is not only this that expresses the cynicism of the civil suits and the case as a whole, since the prosecution has always claimed that Karpyuk and Klykh used automatic rifles and sniper guns, whereas Nikolayev died from mortar shelling.
This was not the only discrepancy in this squalid prosecution, concocted at a time when Russia is paying huge numbers of mercenaries, as well as secretly using its own military personnel, to wage undeclared war against Ukraine in Donbas.
Karpyuk and Klykh were accused of having fought against the Russian federal forces 20 years earlier in Chechnya. Neither man had ever been to Chechnya and could present witness testimony and, in Klykh’s case, documents from university, confirming that the men had been in Ukraine at the time they were supposed to be fighting in the RF.
Russia claimed that Klykh (b. 1974) and Karpyuk (b. 1964) had, together with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny 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 during the huge periods that the men were held totally incommunicado and without proper lawyers The lurid and wildly implausible ‘confessions; they signed to stop the torture were backed by provably wrong testimony provided by Malofeyev. As mentioned, he is already serving a 23-year sentence in Russia and is a drug addict with diseases which would be life-threatening without appropriate medication.
Both Klykh and Karpyuk retracted their ‘testimony’ after being allowed to see real lawyers and their shocking accounts of the torture used to obtain the confessions are part of applications to the European Court of Human Rights.
There are medical records which substantiate Klykh’s consistent allegations that during this period he was subjected to terrible torture and that he was plied with psychotropic drugs. Klykh showed signs of serious mental disturbance from soon after the trial began, and there were pleas, including from a psychiatric association in the United Kingdom, for him to receive a proper psychiatric assessment . This was refused, and instead the ‘court’ in Chechnya charged and convicted Klykh of having ‘insulted’ a prosecutor during a court hearing, where he was in a very disturbed state.
As well as evidence of the men’s ‘alibis’, there were also the historical facts which clashed with the prosecution’s case. In a four-part analysis* the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre, which followed both Russia’s wars in Chechnya, 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 – including Nikolayev - were not killed by gunfire, as the prosecution claimed.
Memorial HRC also pointed to the fact that the men had ‘confessed’ to absolutely horrific atrocities. These had not been included in the charges, yet were read out in court, clearly to influence both the judge and jury against the men.
It was on the basis of this devastating assessment of the charges that in February 2016 Memorial declared both men political prisoners. It called the trial part of the unrelenting anti-Ukrainian campaign in the Russian state media and pronouncements from high-ranking Russian officials, including Alexander Bastrykin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin (see: The Chilling side to Russia’s claims about Yatsenyuk as Chechnya fighter)
The trial took place in Grozny, and there is evidence of witnesses being threatened and harassed by thugs, working for the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and it is likely that the jury members were also put under pressure. It is difficult to understand otherwise how they could have found men guilty of killings that either never happened, or that happened in different places and could not have been carried out by the two men, even if the latter had not had alibis.
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, as have been all such politically-motivated trials against Ukrainians. As mentioned, Zoya Svetova, a prominent Russian rights activist has called the case “one of the most insane and monstrously falsified prosecutions initiated against Ukrainian nationals since the annexation of Crimea”.
The falsification is, unfortunately, ongoing with Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk very briefly detained in December 2017 at Geneva Airport because of Russia putting him on the wanted list.
PLEASE WRITE TO MYKOLA KARPYUK AND STANISLAV KLYKH!
It is vital that the men – and Moscow – know that they are not forgotten. Letters need to be handwritten (not typed) in Russian and on innocuous subjects since they will be read by the prison authorities. If this is a problem, there is a brief sample letter below which you could send, perhaps with a picture or photo.
Please use the Russian version of his first name, Nikolai, as it has much more chance of passing the censor and give the year of birth, by his name.
Russian Federation 600020, Vladimir,
No. 67 Bolshaya Nizhegorodskaya St., Prison No. 2 Vladimirsky Tsentral
Nikolai Andronovych Karpyuk, b. 1964
600020 г. Владимир, ул Большая Нижегородская, д. 67, ФКУ Т-2 Владимирский централ,
Карпюку, Николаю Андроновичу, г.р. 1964]
It is possible that Klykh is currently in a clinic, however this is the most up-to-date prison address.
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: