war crimes in Ukraine

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Information on torture and cruel treatment in penitentiary establishments


1. Some legal problems

The Law on preliminary incarceration prohibits minors staying in preliminary prisons to meet with their parents and relatives, allegedly in the interests of investigation. Yet, the interests of the minors and their psychological state are regarded as a problem without importance. So, for six, nine, twelve months or even more a child stays in a cell. Almost every minor convict is scared by the circumstances and has a very unstable psyche. Most them are from orphanages or so-called unfavorable families. The child is visited only by his investigating officer, when the latter thinks it advisable. The personnel of preliminary prisons include social worker, but he is one for 100-170 children, other similar staff is not envisaged by instructions. It is true that being permitted by the investigator the incarcerated child may get the right to see a psychologist. But children do not know this, and getting such a permission is a sophisticated procedure. Natalya Maksimova, a professor of the faculty of sociology and psychology of the T. Shevchenko National University, tells that nowadays nobody is obliged to explain such children the peculiarities of their status. Nobody cares to make children not to be afraid of investigation, not to obtain distorted ideas about possible punishment, trial and life in reformatory colonies.

Special polls conducted in preliminary prison by the Center of social services for youth showed that the proportion of illiterates among the minor convicts is rather big. Almost half of the children before getting to prison did not come to school for one or more years.

N. Maksimova believes that the greatest attention must be paid to legal enlightenment of the “special contingent” – at least they must get acquainted with the Covenant on children’s rights.

Now more than two thousand children stay in preliminary prisons of Ukraine.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 186, 11 October 2001)

* * *

353 convict are waiting for their cases to be considered by the Appeal court of the Donetsk oblast (by 16 January 2002). Among them the time of expectation is:

-- up to 3 months – 62 persons;

-- from 3 to 6 months – 74;

-- from 6 to 12 months – 132;

-- longer than 12 months – 85.

From the letter to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed by V. Boyko, the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and V. Krivenko, the head of the council of judges; the letter is signed in May of the last year:

“The pretext for the immediate consideration of the question about the state of processing criminal case by the Donetsk oblast court became the rough violation by the state of the rights, stipulated by the Ukrainian Constitution and European Convention of human rights, of citizens brought to criminal responsibility and kept under custody for justice and open consideration of their cases in reasonable terms and by unbiased court. Now 288 such convicts wait for about a year when their cases will be considered, and 32 wait more than a year. The court must plan considering criminal cases not only in the courtroom, but also during outgoing court sessions, since the building of the oblast court does not permit to consider more than four cases simultaneously. At the same, during last years the Ministry of finances and the Ministry of Justice hand out the finances so small that it is impossible to organize the outgoing court sessions. Negligence of their service duties by these ministries is inadmissible and demands immediate reaction, because it leads to mass violations of human rights and inflicts damage on state interests…”

 («Zarkalo nedeli», No. 3, 26 January -1 February 2002)

* * *

967 persons are kept now in the Odessa preliminary prison because their affairs were not considered in the proper time. 36 out of them are staying behind the bars without any verdict more than 1.5 years, Anatoliy Luniachenko, the head of the Odessa appeal court, informed the agency “Reporter”.

 («Vechernie vesti», No. 19, 8 February 2002)

* * *

More than 4.5 thousand of criminal case remained still not considered by courts of the Kharkov oblast. The majority of the accused are waiting for their verdicts in preliminary prisons. Many do it for longer than six months, the conditions of the upkeep are frequently inhumane.

The average load for one judge has achieved now 90 cases per month. There are some judges, whose load is thrice more. Often the same judge is dealing with a criminal, administrative and civil cases. The number of convict waiting in preliminary prison grew during the last year from 1700 to 2500. And these are no guarantees that every of them are guilty in the incriminated offences.

 («Vecherniy Kharkov», No. 29, 14 March 2002)

* * *

Nina Karpacheva, the ombudsperson:

“More than 70% of preliminary prisons population are recorded by courts. It is not infrequent when a court issued a guilty verdict to cover the term of the illegal keeping under custody and thus to justify the incompetence of investigation or themselves. The new kind of arrest (popularly called the “shock” one) introduced by the new Criminal Code became a convenient tool for this. This arrest permits to incarcerate an adult up to six months and a minor – from 15 to 45 days. The verdicts are fitted to these terms to release the accused after the trial. Certainly, human rights are seriously violated in this trick. This kind of convicts have no right for meetings with relatives and food parcels, while even murderers have such a right. This legal norm must be reconsidered”.

The ombudsperson intends to achieve the legal reconsideration of the procedure of incarcerating citizens for violating administrative regime. The existing practice, to put one behind the bars for he did not register in the proper time in a militia precinct, is cruel. The problem of the permission for convicts to be present at the funeral of their relatives must be positively solved too.

Now about the nourishment. The price of the nourishment of one convict in a USS preliminary prison is 5 hryvnas per day. Vladimir Levochkin, the head of the State penitentiary department informed: “We have 21 hospitals, 10 of them are for TB cases, whose number now is 12.6 thousand”.

 («Kievskie vedomosti», 18 March 2002)

2. Upkeep conditions in penitentiaries

2.1. General problems

By 1 February 2002 193.3 thousand persons stay in Ukrainian penitentiaries, informed Vladimir Levochkin, the head of the State penitentiary department. About 29 thousand convicts got under the last amnesty, about 100 of them were again detained on the suspicion of various offences. 706 persons with life-long terms are now kept in Ukrainian penitentiaries.

There are 180 penitentiaries in Ukraine. In particular, 131 of them are reformatory establishments and 33 are preliminary prisons. The country has 11 penitentiary for minors and those, who are kept there up to 20 years old for social adaptation (10 for men and 1 for women).

 («Vechernie vesti», No. 30, 28 February 2002)

* * *

The protocols of the district voting commission read that at election station No. 60 of election district No. 108, which is situated in the town of Vakhrushchevo of the Lugansk oblast (the Vakhrushchevo reformatory colony), all 2053 convict voted for the governmental bloc “For united Ukraine!”; out of 14 candidates in the majority district all the voters unanimously supported Kirichenko, a representative of the same bloc.

In the Lugansk preliminary prison all 1756 incarcerated voted for the governmental bloc (see protocol of election station No.  6 of district No. 105).

 («Tovarishch», No. 15, April 2002)

* * *

An election station No. 84 of district No. 108 (the town Perevalsk of the Lugansk oblast) 1063 voters were registered. 1063 of them voted for the bloc “For united Ukraine!”

An election station No. 117 (Komissarivka, the Perevalsk district of the Lugansk oblast) 1030 voters got their bulletins. 9 of the bulletins were spoiled, others were for the bloc “For united Ukraine!”

An election station No. 67 of district No. 145 in Poltava almost all 1357 voters (except those 14, who spoiled their bulletins) voted for Litvin and his team.

The Lugansk oblast voters are convicts of two penitentiaries of the Ministry of Interior, in Poltava they are the population of the preliminary prison.

 («Silski visti», No. 43, 9 April 2002)

* * *

In Bukovina the bloc “For united Ukraine!” got the greatest number of votes from the electors from the Chernivtsi preliminary prison and Sokirnianska penitentiary establishment РЧ-328/67. In the former the bloc obtained 259 votes. In the latter 910 voters out of 1184 chose the governmental bloc.

 («Rukh», No. 13, April 2002)

* * *

Mykhaylo Verbenskiy, a deputy head of the State penitentiary department, informed that 2800 minor criminals (14-18 years old) are kept now behind the bars in Ukraine. 2954 more have the records in the Criminal-executive inspection, which since 1 January 2001 deals with the punishments not connected with incarceration. 1893 minor have postponed verdicts. 13% of the incarcerated minors are 14-16 years old, 70% -- 16-18 years old. As to incarceration terms, the one third got 1-3 years, half – 3-5 years, 17.5% -- 5 years. 49% were bred in incomplete families, 15 % have the education from 1 to 6 forms. Some children get colonies unable to write and read. Last year 421 children obtained certificates on finishing the elementary school, 291 – certificates of the secondary education and 1291 – certificates on getting worker professions.

 («Molod Ukrainy», No. 66-67, 31 May 2002)

2.2. Upkeep conditions in penitentiaries

After previous publications:

About transportation of women-convicts from Krivoy Rog to Dnepropetrovsk and changes in their state – see “Populiarnye vedomosti”, No. 36, 6 September 2001.

* * *

As the results of the checks organized by ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva testify, the nourishment of convicts, who stay in preliminary prisons of different sorts leaves must to be desired. In the course of the checks the ombudsperson noticed that the detained are not fed at all in the cells in district precincts, and in detention blocks the detained get two meals per day instead of three. The starvation of the detained, N. Karpacheva believes, is a serious violation of human rights, inflicts serious damage to their health and may be a tool of pressure on the suspected from law-enforcing organs.

Ms. Karpacheva turned to Prime-Minister Anatoliy Kinakh and Parliament speaker Ivan Pliushch with the request to include into the budget-2002 expenditures for the feeding of temporarily detained as a protected expenditure item guaranteeing its 100% provision.

 («Segodnia», No. 220, 2 October 2001)

* * *

The prosecutor’s office and the department for fighting organized crime of the town of Gorlovka are jointly investigating the fact of service forgery (Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code) in Zhdanovskaya reformatory colony No. 3. According the preliminary data, from March to August of this year 12 convicts of this colony were released… being dead. Several days after a convict died, he was allegedly released after Article 408 of the Criminal-Procedural Code (releasing because of a grave disease). This article, as a rule, is applied to those, who are doomed. More often such incarcerated are released to die at home. Several from those twelve, in particular, Marinenko, Gerasimov and Mishchuk petitioned to release them before their death, and were brought to court as falling under Article 408. But the judge was implacable. One morning he refused to release one of the convicts, and at noon the latter died, after which he was released by the judge according the mentioned article. Zhdanovskaya colony is a colony- hospital, to which the incarcerated with TB are directed from other penitentiaries. On 1 December 1620 persons stayed there. This year, according to the data of the Donetsk oblast prosecutor’s office, 53 convicts died in the colony. During the same period of the last year the number of deaths was even more – 60 persons. Owing to the current situation, the order was issued to the Donetsk oblast directorate of the State penitentiary department, according to which two heads of special departments and two heads of medical departments were dismissed from the law-enforcing organs. Some other officials were also punished.

 («2000», No. 50, 14-20 December 2001)

* * *

From a letter:

“I am a convict of Alchevsk colony No. 13. We beg you to render us help… When the wardens were Napolskikh and later Yangolenko, we lived not very well, but tolerably. Now the warden is Kizimov, and all what happens in the colony may not be described. In the working zone they switched off heating. The frosts were hard, we had to build fires in the buildings. All this time they extracted money from us for electric energy. As to the nourishment, it is uneatable. We, certainly, may not pretend to order food in a restaurant, but the administration even does not permit to get food from relatives. Our colony is for TB cases.

I do not dare to sign the letter – I want to survive”.

 («Pravda Ukrainy”, No.26, 19 February 2002)

* * *

This colony is situated in the settlement of Makoshino of the Chernigiv oblast. Now colony No. 91 of strengthened regime is intended for the condemned law-enforcers: militiamen, USS officers, judges, prosecutors. The colony was created in 1992. Now 373 convict stay there. More then a half of them got 13-15 years, mainly for murders. What concerns their ranks – the superiors are a lieutenant colonel and a head of oblast militia directorate. The main contingent is law-rank: sergeants and servicemen of patrol squads, that is the category of law-enforcers, whose wages are the smallest. The same statistics is true also for prosecutor’s offices and security services. One of the colony heads told: “Now we do not catch big fish, those, who have much money, do not get to us. Frequently the terms are served by those, who were honestly fighting crime, but were “too zealous””. Mainly the articles, by which law-enforcers are punished, are bribes and misuse of power. About half of incarcerated militiamen are road militia officers. Only 70-80% of the incarcerated work, usually not full-time. The state gives for nourishment 2 hryvnas per day. The main additional source of income is the car repair shop, where professionals work. Another source of income is invalids of the 1st and 2nd groups, the number of whom is about five hundred. According to the instruction, their pensions are not given to them personally, but are put in the local bank. According to the wish of the convict that money is used for buying food. The penitentiary takes the money as a loan. How much is returned is unknown. More than a hundred of the invalids died last and this year. On 24 August 2000 the order was issued to amnesty 200 convict. The colony had no money even for their transport expenses. The incarcerated invalids helped the colony with a considerable sum – 140 thousand UAH.

 («Frant», Kupiansk-Uzlovoy, the Kharkov oblast, No. 6, 31 January 2002)

2.3. Data on sickness rate in penitentiaries

Now TB is the most frequent disease in penitentiaries. According to the data of the State penitentiary department, there are about 16 thousand TB cases among those, who stay under custody, only about 12 thousand out of them are on the treatment in prison hospitals. Oleksandr Ptashinski, a deputy head of the department, told that about five thousand TB cases with the opened from of the disease get to preliminary prisons, and their treatment is impossible until the final verdict is declared. The investigation may last from six to eight months, while the disease is becoming more virulent because of absence of medical aid and bad upkeep conditions. This disease is catching during contacts.

Only 64% of the amnestied managed to “reach” to the dispensaries, and in some regions this figure is less than 50%.

 («Den», No.179, 4 October 2001)

* * *

In accordance with the preliminary data, 2037 persons sick of TB were released during the last amnesty.

(«Fakty», No. 178, 4 October 2001)

* * *

Since the beginning of the year 2886 convicts have been released from penitentiaries by Article 408 of the Civil-Procedural Code, that is out of compassion to their incurable diseases. Oleksandr Ptashinski, a deputy head of the department, informed that in the Donetsk oblast 2367 prisoners were released owing to the state of their health.

 («2000», No. 50, 14-20 December 2001)

* * *

The great stimuli for the development of TB in Ukraine last year were: high rate of this disease in penitentiaries and the distribution of it at large through numerous amnestied.

The main social problem in the country is now the “prison” or “amnesty” TB. Penitentiary organs do not care to give in time the lists of sick amnestied to medical establishments. In the Crimea (excluding Sevastopol) only 99 about of 138 amnestied with dangerous forms of TB were registered. Although the patients secreting bacteria may not be released until stopping the secreting, they are released, and not all of them are examined by doctors.

The number of the TB cases released after expiration of their terms is even more the number of the amnestied. 45 persons with active forms of TB came to Evpatoria from penitentiaries during last year only, although only five of were amnestied.

Now the proportion of those, who came to TB dispensaries from penitentiaries reaches 50% and sometimes even 80-90%.

(«Den», No. 18, 30 January 2002)

2.4. Mortality rate in penitentiaries

1296 convict have died in penitentiary since the beginning of the year. Oleksandr Ptashinski, a deputy head of the department, informed that that 39 prisoners died in the Donetsk oblast. The penitentiary department strictly investigates every death of a convict.

(«2000», No. 50, 14-20 December 2001)

3. Description of torments

According to the order of the State penitentiary department of 18 January 2000, the convicts, who have a quite number of diseases, must not be kept under custody. Unfortunately, the reality differs from the law.

Konstantin Kosmach got to the Vinnitsa preliminary prison in December 1999. Judge of the oblast court Evhen Nagorniak, who was in charge Kosmach’s case, told that, since Kosmach had a bouquet of diseases, the resolution was issued to suspend the investigation until the complete cure of the accused. But the accused cannot be cured in the preliminary prison, since the conditions are unsuitable. Kosmach’s son wrote that his several requests addressed to the USS investigation officer about the change of the preventive measure for his father were not satisfied. The requests to summon a cardiologist to the convict were rejected during six months. Nine months after Kosmach’s arrest the main doctor of the preliminary prison informed the court that his patient needed an urgent operation. “The court ruled to conduct the session without my presence”, Kosmach told. Five months later the main doctor of the Strizhevska prison hospital examined Kosmach. His conclusion was that the state of health of the incarcerated had significantly improved. Judge Nagorniak received the same reference. All this optimistic conclusions were made on the background of the developing diseases and exacerbation of inguinal hernia.

The relatives of the convicts of the Vinnitsa preliminary prison tell that “recently an epidemic of hepatitis broke out in the prison. The administration did not take any measures for treatment or at least temporary isolation of the sick. Usually about eight persons stay in one cell. All of them use the same crockery, eat the same food. Certainly, all the diets are the same“.

Oleksandr Tiurkin, a lawyer of the Vinnitsa committee for human rights protection:

“Such treatment of the convicts may be accessed only as a brutal violation of Articles 49 and 63 of the Constitution. In Kosmach’s case one more article was violated – Article 150 of the Civil-Procedural Code, which clearly states that, which choosing the preventive measure, the law-enforcers must take into account the individual features of the accused, the age and state of health”.

“Kosmach’s case is a mild from of what happens in our preliminary prisons”, believes Vasyl Zhornokley, the head of the Vinnitsa committee for human rights protection.

 («Nova alternativa», No. 3-4, 31 January - 14 February 2002)

* * *

The General Prosecutor’s office opened the criminal case about procuring by cops the “voluntary” confession from a Kharkov dweller Roman Butenko. They wanted him to confess to the murder of a young girl. R. Butenko spent behind the bars more than five years until he was found completely non-guilty by court.

The story of a Sevastopol inhabitant Vladislav Siniatin is similar to the previous one, but in the process of the struggle with the prosecutor’s machine he lost even more health. This story began in 1995. On 16 November V. Siniatin, a senior student of the Nakhimov Navy School, was detained on the suspicion of raping a girl. “Could I know while entering the prosecutor’s office that I will return home three years later and as an invalid?”, tells Vladislav. The investigation lasted a year. “Nobody touched me with a finger in the prosecutor’s office. I was beaten only in the preliminary prison by the local personnel. Sometimes they took from my cell at night to torment”. A year after the arrest, in October 1996, the trial began in the Court Martial of the Sevastopol garrison. Vladislav was condemned to seven years of incarceration in a colony of strengthened regime. In the end of 1996 Siniatin, who was directed to colony No. 314/38 (the Lugansk oblast), caught jaundice together with other prisoners because of the low quality of drinking water. He began to cough still in the Simferopol preliminary prison. Mother, who came to visit her son, learned from the prison doctors that he had TB from long ago, his left lung was damaged and his liver was injured after hepatitis. Before the diagnosis was established, he was driven to heavy physical work, then he was transferred to the TB barrack. In 1997 V. Siniatin was transported to another colony, where the TB hospital was -- colony No. 314/13 (Alchevsk, the Lugansk oblast).

Vladislav tells:

“My documents were directed to Vitaliy Boyko, the chairman of the Supreme Court. It was enough to cast a glance at them to understand that my case was falsified. All proofs of the accusation consisted of testimony of the victim. The Supreme Court cancelled the verdict of the court of the first instance and sent the case for additional investigation. Yet, the preventive measure was not changed in spite of the state of my health”.

Vladislav’s mother supposes: “Our family encountered with a special from of racket. The essence racket is that racketeers choose successful young guys and, jointly with prosecutor’s offices, accuse them in order to earn money. They understand that many parents would willingly sell the last shirt in order to avoid their son of such a dirty stop in his biography”.

While the Supreme Court considered the case, Siniatin’s health deteriorated more and more in the prison hospital. In order to conduct investigation actions Vladislav was transported to Simferopol in a special carriage for convicts. The travel lasted for a month. Vladislav, sick with the open from of TB, was put with healthy people in the overcrowded carriage. How many people caught the disease on the way is unknown.

“When at last we came to Simferopol, I could not walk. Blood flowed from my throat. In the preliminary prison cell several persons died of TB in my presence. They died at night and lay unmoved in the cell until morning. The doctor’s commission turned to the judge with the request to change my preventive measure. But the judge refused without explanations”.

Perhaps, they were afraid in the prosecutor’s office that convict Siniatin would die under their observation, so they did change the preventive measure at last: on 24 July 1998 Siniatin was released with the promise not to leave his place and was put to the Simferopol military hospital. In the Simferopol lung-surgery center doctors removed two thirds of his left lung, after which he got the second group of invalidity. On 14 December 2001 the Court Martial of the Feodosia found Vladislav Siniatin not guilty. “This was the first similar case in my three-years practice”, told Siniatin’s advocate Leonid Dmitriev, “As soon as the appeal is finished, a criminal case must be opened against the three investigators, who participated in falsifying the testimony (this falsification was proved by court). Besides, we shall immediately start the case on recompensing moral and material damage. But it is difficult to win the military machine. The appeal court is still postponed”. And someone sends detractive letters to Vladislav’s school and his wife’s office.

“It seems to me that the prosecutor’s office started full-time hunt for me”, complains Vladislav, “I hope that after the verdict comes into effect everything will be OK…”

 («Fakty», No. 91, 23 May 2002)

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