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10.06.2019 | Halya Coynash
The right to a fair trial

Russia sentences Ukrainian seized in Crimea to 10.5 years for ‘spying’ on the FSB

Davydenko from the FSB video

32-year-old Kostyantin Davydenko has been convicted by the Russian-controlled Crimean High Court of supposed ‘spying’ after a totally secret ‘trial’ and nothing to substantiate the charges but a videoed ‘confession’ given while totally under FSB control.  Since the ten and a half year maximum security sentence was passed by ‘judge’ Andrei Paly, who earlier sentenced Ukrainian political prisoner Yevhen Panov to 8 years on no grounds at all, there seems good reason for doubts about the legitimacy of the charges in Davydenko’s case.

Russia’s FSB reported on 12 February 2018 that they had detained Davydenko, who was described only as a Ukrainian citizen.  They asserted that he had “deliberately collected and passed to the Ukrainian Security Service information constituting a state secret” about units within the so-called Russian National Guard, and about employees of the FSB.  This information, if passed “abroad”, could supposedly harm “the state’s security”.   A criminal investigation has been initiated under Article 276 of Russia’s criminal code (spying).

Russian or Russian-controlled media broadcast two FSB operation videos.  The first, shown by Krym.Inform, claimed to show the seizure of “a Ukrainian suspected of spying”.  Much later in the day, presumably after interrogation by the FSB in Moscow, the standard ‘confession’ video was broadcast by Russian state media.  There were no obvious signs of torture, but in absolutely every case where such videos have been produced, the men involved have said that they ‘confessed’ under torture as soon as they received a proper lawyer. 

The problem in this case, and in the earlier ‘spying’ trials of Valentin Vyhivsky and Viktor Shur, is that Russia uses the espionage charges as excuse for maximum secrecy with this making it extremely easy to prevent the men from receiving independent defence. It is not known whether Davydenko had a proper lawyer.  The FSB claimed recently that he fully admitted the charges, however that would not explain why seven hearings were needed.

News of Davydenko’s arrest came shortly after Sergei Aksyonov, the Crimean installed as leader by Russian soldiers, spoke of measures of security against supposed ‘terrorist attacks’ from mainland Ukraine before Russia’s ‘presidential elections’ which were being illegally held in Crimea.

Davydenko is married and has a small son.  He is originally from the Donetsk oblast and, together with his father, had been working as valuers of real estate and other forms of property.  His parents remained in a part of Donbas under the control of the Russian-backed militants.  Although Davydenko and his wife moved to Kharkiv, with their son, he appears to have held a managerial post in a firm carrying out orders both on territory under the control of the Ukrainian government, and that under militant control. 

From his VKontakte page, it is clear that he has been in Crimea several times. His father told Krym.Realii that he had travelled there on work trips, to assess property, with this presumably the reason for his trip on 10 February 2018.

Davydenko is the 15th Ukrainian to have been seized and imprisoned on supposed ‘spying’ or ‘sabotage’ charges.  None has been based on any verifiable evidence. 

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