war crimes in Ukraine

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After encounter with the police a man hanged himself. The police deny torture

18.08.2010    source:
A 34-year-old man hanged himself after “a conversation” with the police in Sosynytsa, Chernihiv region. Two months on, the Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] rejects any suggestion that torture was applied. Human rights groups have a different point of view

A 34-year-old man hanged himself after “a conversation” with the police in Sosynytsa, Chernihiv region. Two months on, the Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] rejects any suggestion that torture was applied. Human rights groups have a different point of view.

On 11 June this year, after several days of contact with the police, 34-year-old Valeriy Kysil, from the town of Koryukvkf in the Chernihiv region, hanged himself. Valeriy and his parents had been taken by force from their home, held in a SIZO [remand centre], and not allowed to see their relatives or a lawyer. He was subjected to intimidation and they tried to force him to confess to a crime.  Valeriy  stopped sleeping, became anxious, terrified that they “would soon come for us all and kill everybody”, and finally hanged himself.

The authorities’ position

On 22 July an information request was sent to the relevant MIA department asking whether the MIA were aware of the case, whether an investigation had been carried out and, if so, what the result had been.

They informed that they were aware of it, that after Valeriy’s suicide a complaint had been received by the Prosecutor alleging unwarranted actions by the Chernihiv Regional Police.

The Chernihiv Regional Prosecutor had instructed the police to carry out an official investigation. This had apparently been done, and the conclusions sent to the Prosecutor for a legal assessment. The conclusions were not provided.

After this another information request was sent to the Regional Prosecutor. The reply stated that in accordance with Article 37 of the Law on Information, this document did not need to be provided.

Human rights campaigners’ position

Article 97 of the Criminal Procedure Code which was the subject of the investigation pertains to procedural matters. There was no investigation into whether torture had been applied.

There are serious grounds for believing it was, including the testimony of Valeriy himself who spoke of it to his lawyer, to the taxi driver who took him home from the police station and to his family.

Serhiy Burov, Head of the Chernihiv Civic Organization M’ART says that after reading the response to the information requests, you have an impression of what really happened. He says there are many cases known where the Prosecutor and Police cover up for each other, and after such internal investigations it’s practically impossible to establish the truth.

Maria Yasenovska, President of the Kharkiv Regional Civic Alternative Foundation points out:

“European Court of Human Rights case law shows that in such cases we can speak of a presumption of guilt by the State. If before being in the police station a person was physically and mentally healthy, but afterwards committed suicide, then it is not for the victim’s side to provide the errors of the State, but for the State to provide that it did not do anything inadmissible.”

According to Oleksandr Zaholets, Valeriy’s lawyer, the criminal investigation has stood still since Valeriy’s death. Nobody has been charged although the investigator has promised that the case will be sent to court. He says that the fact that the investigator is the same means that the police enquiry found no violations.


At present the possibility is being reviewed of sending the case to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union as a strategic litigation, this being one aimed at changing either the law or practice of applying the law. Ms Yasenovska stresses that in this case it would be a question of changing practice, and says that a number of similar cases have already been won in the European Court of Human Rights.  Perhaps the sheer weight of these numbers can have impact on the government.

Slightly adapted from the original at

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