war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Human rights in Ukraine 2009 – 2010. I. The right to life



1.Protection of life of people under control of the state

The state is responsible for the life of people under its control, for example, imprisoned or detained on remand, conscripts of armed forces, placed at state hospitals (especially those where people are undergoing compulsory treatment), etc.

Numerous violations of the right to life in places of deprivation of liberty or temporary detention (temporary holding facilities, or ITT; pre-trial remand centres or SIZO, penal institutions, etc) remains significant problem. Appalling conditions, and medical treatment being often unavailable or inadequate, lead to people dying. A flagrant example of non-rendering adequate medical assistance is the case of Tomaz Kardava:

On October 10, 2008 Tomaz Kardava arrived at Kyiv SIZO. At the moment of his placement to SIZO he was diagnosed with closed craniocerebral injury: brain contusion with nucleus formation in the right frontal lobe, tenth rib fracture on the right side, viscera contusion, kidney contusion, rectum hematoma, chronic hemorroids in remission, chronic persistent hepatitis type C”.

While in custody, Kardava frequently complained on his condition and asked for medical assistance. After medical consultations he was diagnosed with “ischemic heart disease: atherosclerotic cardiosclerosis and sclerosis, hypertension 2nd level, in crisis, inadequate blood supply 0-1 level, discirculatory encephalopathy, consequences of old closed craniocerebral injury, cervical osteochondrosis, medium-scale myopia, chronic hepatitis in acute condition”.

On April 1, 2010 Kardava after examination was diagnosed with “mixed liver cyrrhosis, active phase, progressing condition, hepatic cellular insufficiency, portal hypertension, hypersplenia phenomenon, chronic pyelonephritis, chronic cholecystitis”.

During all that time Kardava was not provided with adequate medical assistance. His health condition had become worse, he suffered and experienced pain. During last court sessions he could not seat or stand, he was laying on the floor. He and his lawyer appealed to Shevchenkivsky Ditrict Court to release him from custody or to send him to a medical institution where he would be given appropriate medical assistance. Appeals were overruled by the court.

On March 31, 2010 Kardava’s lawyer addressed the European Court with an appeal to apply the Rule 39 and to send Kardava to any Kyiv hospital where he would be able to receive urgent and adequate medical assistance. On the same day, European Court applied the Rule 39, indicating the necessity to check whether Kardava required respective medical assistance and to send him to a medical institution.

On April 1, 2010 Kardava was sent to Kyiv Emergency Assistance Hospital. On April 2, the doctor prescribed medications to Kardava for 3-4 days. Relatives of the patient purchased the medications, including the injections. Nevertheless, when Kardava’s relatives and his lawyer attended him in the hospital, they found out that the medications from the pack were not used; from April 2 to April 7 he was not under the doctor’s supervision, because the doctor had been absent and the position of doctor on duty was absent in the department for arrestees. All that time Kardava was held in the ward in insanitary conditions together with other patients.

On April 7, 2010 Kardava died.

The procedure of institution of criminal procedures against persons involved in Kardava’s beating is still in process. An application to open a criminal file against SIZO employees had been filed.

Also the attention should be paid to the case of Huseyn Ashahanov who died in inter-regional hospital for convicted at Sofiivska correction facility no. 45.

HuseynAshahanov, born in 1972, was serving his sentence in Orihiv correction facility no. 88. According to his cellmates he was in good condition, rarely complained on health problems, attempted to live a healthy way of life, he did not smoke, did physical exercises on a daily basis.

According to his cellmates and friends whom he was in connection, in September 2009 Ashahanov applied to medical division complaining on feeling sick. He had been made two injections of an unknown medicine. After that Ashahanov started to feel permanently sick, he lost relish for food, after eating he often vomited. His temperature constantly was on a level 37-37, 5 оС. Ashahanov for several timed applied to the medical division with complaints, insisted on examination and treatment. The examination of Ashahanov was not made, the treatment was not assigned.

On November 3, 2009 the condition of Ashahanov according to his cellmates became much worse. He could not stand up from the bed due to weakness, suffered nausea and vomit, he felt constant shivery, his temperature went up to 40 degrees and upper. He did not go for a walk because of his poor health condition. In two months he, according to his cellmates lost about 20 kilograms of weight. In time when he was able to stand up from the bed he addressed the medical division. He was given one-time pills (analgene or benadryl) that lowered body temperature for a very short time. Several times he was taken to medical division, each time for a period no longer than 5 days. There was neither constant treatment nor even any examination. At times when Ashahanov could not get up from the bed and call medical assistant for help, he was not provided medical assistance at all, because guards did not respond to his complaints just releasing him from daily checks, allowing him not to get up from the bed.

On January 19, 2010 Ashahanov was taken to the interregional prison hospital at Dnipropetrovsk SIZO with the diagnosis: “HIV-infection with a full-blown immunosuppression. Clinic stage IV”. There he remained to January 22, 2010.

Only on February 13, 2010 he was transferred to the interregional hospital for the convicted at Sofiivska correction facility no. 45, where he died on March 26, 2010.

During the autopsy it was established that he almost completely lacked hypodermic adipose tissue, that meant an utter exhaustion of the organism”.

In 2010 cases of people’s death in police under undefined circumstances became more often.[2]

A flagrant example is the case of Igor Indylo, who died in the district police station of Shevchenkivskyy District in Kyiv on May 19, 2010. According to TSN news service information the Verkhovna Rada Ombudsman Nina Karpachova called the case a murder.[3]

According to the act of forensic medical-hystolytic examination no. 927 dated May 20, 2010:

 «Death of Indylo I.I., born in 1990 occurred as a result of closed craniocerebral injury accompanied with a fracture of calvarium bones and bones of skull base, hemorrhage under the arachnoid membrane of the medullary substance with a development of compression, tumefaction and brain swelling”.

One more case dealing with death in police is the case of Dmytro Yaschuk, who was found hanged in Sviatoshyno district police station of Kyiv. In this case, relatives were not allowed for a long time to examine the body and to carry out alternative forensic medical examination.[4]

In total according to mass media reports in 2010 compared to 2009 the amount of persons who died in the MIA institutions increased gradually. Thus in 2009 21 lethal cases were registered in MIA facilities and to the beginning of October 2010 already 41 deaths were registered[5].

It is necessary to mention the situation with the right to life observance in the Armed Forces.

In practice, the amount of crimes related to the violation of rules of the relations between servicemen remained on the level of 2008 (121 in 2009 against 118 in 2008)[6].


2. Measures carried out by the State to protect life


Situation with life protection of people by the police during mass public activities raise great concern. In some cases, policemen did not interfere, even when they were witnessing a threat to human life.

The striking example are the events on June 2, 2010 in Gorky park in the city of Kharkiv, when police officers present on site failed to stop cutting the trees in spite of direct threat to human life, as a result the tree cut fell on the top of the tree, where a protestant was sitting[7].

Unfortunately, this is not a random case. According to the mass media[8], on September 25, 2010 in the city of Kharkiv fans of local football club in presence of policemen threw stones against the bus with the players of rival team, but the police did not attempt to stop the attack, observing everything from the distance.

There is still high mortality rate of the population including children mortality.

The experts connect the problem mentioned to the lack of medical institutions financing and non sufficient medical personnel formation, stressing the need for reform in this area[9].

Rather often mass media communicate about medical negligence[10]. An example of such an error is the case of Mrs. P.

On March 28, 2009 the ambulance took Mrs. P to the communal healthcare establishment “State maternity hospital no. 2” (further MPB no. 2) because of premature amniotic fluid discharge. Mrs. P. was examined on the access point by the doctor who orally communicated to Mrs. P her diagnosis: erroneous fetus position, fetus leg falling out, premature amniotic fluid discharge. Non correct fetus position provided the background for cesarean section. Medical workers of MPB no. 2 informed Mrs. P about the treatment plan that provided operation “cesarean section” and started preparing for the operation. Nevertheless, the chief physician on the phone issued an oral disposition to change the operation plan, to cancel operation preparation and to stipulate labor with medications - under non correct fetus position after amniotic fluid discharge, having violated acting orders of the Ministry of Healthcare on assistance in such cases. Because of such changes Mrs. P. had a baby with birth injuries: left shoulder fracture in the midshaft of bone, perinatal hypoxic-ischemic injury to central nervous system.


3. The State’s duty to ensure an effective investigation into the taking of a life

The state’s duty to protect right for life provides that in case when a human life had been taken, an official investigation must take place. Such an investigation must be done immediately, by an independent and impartial authority and should carry out all reasonable steps to secure evidences related to certain incident, etc.

Nevertheless not always the investigation is carried out properly, especially in cases when the suspected are the representatives of state institutions.

According to the prosecutor’s office statistics more than 165, 5 thousand of crimes remain undetected, or almost every third out of crimes committed in 2009. General amount of crimes undetected taking into consideration crimes of previous years consist of 2032637 including 1148639 grave crimes and especially grave crimes, 6913 intended homicides and attempts and more than 17 thousand intended grievous bodily injuries.[11]

The Ministry of Internal Affairs provides the following statistics concerning the crimes registered and detected:


Crimes causing death of victim in 2009[12]



Crimes registered

Percentage solved %









Grave and especially grave







Particular types of crime

Murder (or attempted murder)







Intentional grave bodily injury causing death of the victim








Crimes causing death of the victim in first half year of 2010[13]


Crimes registered

Percentage solved

Last year

Current year

Dynamics, %

Last year

Current year


Grave and especially grave






Particular types of crimes

Murder (and attempted murder)






Intentional grave bodily injury causing death of the victim






One should note that the number of registered crimes gives only the statistics for criminal investigations actually initiated. However, it is not unusual for investigations to not be initiated, especially in equivocal cases or where the investigators have a particular interest.

Thus, on February 18, 2010 General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine opened a criminal file based upon the fact of abuse of duties by officials of Vovhansky District Prosecutor’s Office and of Vovchansky District MIA of Ukraine Division in Kharkiv Region under section 3 of article 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The resolution opening the criminal file stated:

“…Officials of the Vovchansky District Prosecutor’s Office and Vovchansky District Station of the Main Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Region of
Kharkiv who participated in the venue inspection in order to hide the crime committed – intentional murder of an unknown man, being officials and abusing the duties cut off the head of the indicated dead body where traces of violent death had been found and hid the head in one of water bodies of Vovchansk city”.

Inspections carried out by prosecutors indicate to the negative tendency of crimes concealment from the account by police officials in 2009, including grave and especially grave crimes by no registering them or by means of illegal rejection to open criminal files.

Prosecutors found out and registered more than 18 thousand of crimes hidden from the account, more than 17 thousand of them together with simultaneous cancellations of illegal resolutions to reject opening criminal files. According to the investigation results already more than 5 thousand (5093) open criminal files are sent to the court, so persons who had committed crime were established and the rights of victims were renewed.[14]

Apart it should be mentioned that according to the national legislation without formal act of opening criminal file it is impossible to carry out comprehensive investigation.

The only act allowing opening criminal investigation is a resolution to open criminal file (part 1, article 98 of the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine), creating legal basis for further legal procedure. According to the legislation of Ukraine only after opening the criminal file it is possible to carry out investigative and other procedural actions.

Interrogations, searches, seizures, expertise and other investigative actions prior resolution on opening the criminal file are not provided by the law. Before opening the criminal file in exceptional cases in urgent matters it is allowed the site examination (part 2, article 190 Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine), arresting the correspondence and taking the information out of communication channels in order to prevent a crime (part 3, article 187 Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine).

That is why there is a common situation when the investigation body rejects to open a criminal file in order not to carry out the investigation. Especially often rejections to open criminal file happen in cases of alleged taking life by law enforcement officials, deaths in hospitals, deaths because of traffic accidents, deaths in institutions of confinement etc.

Later the rejections mentioned may be overruled by the courts, but more often it does not influence the effectiveness of the investigation because on the initial phase the evidences had not been taken.

The procedure of crime victim’s access to the case-file in case of the rejection to open a criminal file is extremely complicated. The investigation body almost always rejects to such people an opportunity to inspect the case-file and the only way for them to do it is to appeal the resolution on rejection to open a file in the court and to inspect the papers already there.

Also there is a problem to acknowledge procedural status of the victim in opened criminal cases. A person is acknowledged as a victim only by a special investigator’s resolution.

The investigation of criminal cases already started is carried out very often in a slow and low quality manner.[15] According to the information of prosecutor’s office mostly operative and investigative actions are made slowly on a low professional level, at its fulfillment considerable law infringements take place. Often criminal files are opened not on time, primary investigative actions are performed in a low-quality way. It became a common practice to adopt unlawful decisions on stoppage of pre-trial investigation and closing the cases.[16]

Special attention is required to the issue of deaths investigation in institutions of confinement and also due to application lethal force by policemen and other officials. In these cases mostly the initial investigation is made by the body involved (administration of the institution of confinement where a person had died or the investigation body of the MIA, State Security Service, etc., official of those applied lethal force), which gathers evidence of guilt or innocence of its officials and only after that the case-files are passed to the prosecutor’s office.

In fact there is a situation when the prosecutor’s office takes a decision on starting the criminal case or rejection to open it exclusively based upon the evidence gathered by the body involved, that does not correspond to the requirement of independence.

In addition, there is a problem of ineffective investigation of deaths in traffic accidents. In such a way, in December, 2010 near the Regional Direction of Internal Affairs in the city of Mykolaiv relatives of those who perished in traffic accidents tried to make a rally blaming the investigation bodies of inactivity, notably that investigation of their relative’s deaths lasted for years without being passed to the court[17].

In 2009-2010 European Court issued three decisions concerning violation of Article 2 of the Convention on Human Rights, stating the ineffective investigation of death cases.

So in the judgment on the case Dudnyk v. Ukraine (10 December 2009, no.17985/04) the European Court established violation of the Article 2 of the Convention in its procedural limb:

On May 30, 2000 unknown men caused injuries that led to death son of the applicant in the corridor of the residence hall of Cherkasy Technological University. On June 07, 2000 the criminal file was opened. The Court declared that the investigation was still pending because the personality of the criminal had not been established. The Government did not provide the Court with the information concerning investigative actions carried out for the case indicated. Based upon materials available the Court could not make a conclusion whether the measures made by national bodies on the case had been comprehensive and exhaustive. Besides national bodies cancelled for several times the decision on stoppage of the investigation indicating what investigative actions had to be made. Nevertheless, instructions indicated were not always carried out. Besides, the national bodies acknowledged for themselves that the measures taken had not been comprehensive and exhaustive.

In Myronenko v. Ukraine judgment (18 February 2010, no. 15938/02)it also was acknowledged the violation of the Article 2 of the Convention in its procedural aspect:

On July 10, 1998 son of the applicant Y. M. was found dead in his house. The investigator questioned relatives and friends of Y.M. The autopsy was made, as a result the expert established that death of Y. M. occurred because of craniocerebral injury as a result of falling.

On July 17 the investigator rejected opening the criminal file.

On October 5, 1998 the investigator obtained the information that in evening the day before Y. M. body was found he had had a party at home where Z. and K. beat him hardly.

Repeated forensic examination of Y.M. body was made and it confirmed the results of the previous one.

In March 1999 the investigation was stopped again because of lacking sufficient evidences of complicity Z and K in Y.M. death.

Further the investigation was renewed for several times because of its incompleteness and was stopped again. Several expertises were made, and it was established that Y.M. died because of impact or impacts on the head with a solid object and not from the falling.

In opinion of the Court, the effectiveness of the investigation was greatly undermined on its primary phase. At that time, comprehensive necessary expertise had not been made. Police officials who were the first to arrive at the site were questioned approximately after half a year term. In addition, the Court stressed that rejections to open criminal file were overruled several times as unsubstantiated.

In his judgment in case of Lyubov Yefimenko v. Ukraine (25 November 2010, no. 75726/01)the Court established that Article 2 of the Convention was violated in its procedural aspect:

Son of the applicant E died in the beginning of June, 1993 because of traumas obtained at a bar. Two days after the accident, after medical examination had been made, finding out that several head traumas caused the death, a criminal file was open and the investigation started.

Later also the investigation started because of the fact of theft of jewelry articles from Mr. E. In the end of July the investigator accused two persons, D. and S in committing bodily injuries leading to death and put them on national wanted list. Because of their absence the investigation was suspended in August, 1993. S was arrested in Russian Federation at the beginning of 1997, but he was released one month later, because Ukrainian authorities did not make the extradition request timely.

In March 2000 other suspect D. was arrested in Russian Federation and extradited to Ukraine in July of the same year. He was accused in committing bodily injuries to E. after the interrogation of D who denied his guilt and affirmed that he saw E beating other person in the bar that night. But after questioning other witnesses who were in the bar the night E died police closed criminal file at the beginning of August due to lacking evidences. Mrs. Yefimenko was informed about this decision in September. In November 2000 the prosecutor revoked the decision indicated because not all the evidences were taken into consideration and also discrepancies were found in witnesses statements. During the same month the investigation concerning S was renewed again and in May 2001 he was extradited to Ukraine. After he and all the witnesses had been interrogated the investigators came to a conclusion that injuries were caused by a third person V.B. who had died earlier. In June and July of 2001 criminal cases accusing S. and D. were closed. In September 2001 the Prosecutors Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) sent the case back to the district prosecutor to carry out additional investigation based upon numerous procedural drawbacks and on the fact that the investigation dealing with robbery of Mr. E had not been made at all.

In period from 2002 to 2004 the criminal case was closed and open again for several times because the Prosecutor’s Office of the ARC and the courts indicated to the drawbacks in the investigation, notably that not one time the contradictions in statements of the suspects were eliminated, that there were no confrontations between the suspects and the witnesses made and also that several witnesses were not questioned on the issue who had been in the bar in certain time. Mrs. Yefimenko complained for several times on inability of the authorities to investigate circumstances of her son’s death. The investigation of the case is still in progress.

The Court established that the case was sent back to additional investigation for several times because the prosecutor’s office and the courts found several drawbacks. The investigators did not question witnesses and suspects properly, that is why it was needed to make an additional interrogation with the same questions. Several witnesses who could inform concerning the events were not questioned at all because their location was unknown. But, despite this there were no serious attempts to find out their location.

While national courts determined that investigation of E’s death was made superficially, no disciplinary or other measures were applied to the related persons.

The Court came to a conclusion that there was violation of Article 2 of the Convention in its procedural aspect.


4. Disappearances

Ukrainehas not signed the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Besides for the convention to come into power it should be ratified by one more country - UN-member[18].

In this aspect, the attention should be paid on the resonant issue of 2010 concerning the disappearance of the editor of Kharkiv newspaper “The New Style”. According to the information on the official website of the MIA of Ukraine

on August 12 at 22 30 relatives of Vasyl Klimentyev, the editor in chief of the newspaper “The New Style”, addressed Dzerzhynsky district police station with the declaration that the previous day he had left home and did not come back.

While carrying out a check police officials found out that on August 11 V. Klimentyev left home together with unknown man in silver color BMW car in unknown direction.

The declaration of the offended party was registered according to current legislation. Police officials fulfilled a complex ofoperative and investigation measures. As far as during two days since the moment of declaration the place of the wanted was not defined, on August 15, 2010 the investigation department of Dzerzhynsky district police station of Kharkiv State Direction of Main Direction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Kharkiv Region a criminal file was open in accordance with the Article 115, Penal Code of Ukraine (intended murder).

In present the complex of investigation and operative measures is being made in order to define the location of the disappeared, all possible versions of the disappearance are worked at, related both to his professional duties of the journalist and the other.

The investigation of the criminal case is under control of the Minister of Internal Affairs A. Mogyliov.[19]

Another case dealing with the disappearance – is the case of Manchenko Viktor Volodymyrovych:

Manchenko V.V. together with a friend on July 19, 2010 were detained by officials of Vyshgorod District Police Station of Kyiv Region for having made the administrative infringement. After the detention Mr. Manchenko was not seen alive anymore.[20]


5. Recommendations

1) To introduce effective independent mechanisms for investigating deaths, especially those caused by the actions of law enforcement officers, in particular:

  • create a legislative obligation to open a criminal file in any case of human death to allow the investigation body without unjustified delays to register necessary evidences or to refuse at all from such a stage of criminal investigation as opening criminal file;

  • introduce detailed instructions including minimal list of investigative actions that should be done in each case of death allowing the investigation body initiate closing of criminal file;

  •  carry out regular formation (retraining) of investigating bodies officials in order to improve quality of investigation actions they perform;

  •  determine strictly in the legislation and reduce to minimal amount of the backgrounds for appeal against resolution on opening criminal file, to prohibit the courts overruling of mentioned resolutions based upon formal reasons;

  • create an independent body of human death investigation in institutions of confinement and deaths of people as a result of lethal force applied by the officials of government bodies.

2). Tooblige legally the investigation body to inform victims and their relatives about the course of case investigation every certain time.

3). To ensure legally the opportunity to carry out independent forensic medical examination to evaluate reasons of causing death to a person.

4). To carry out training of the police officials who are involved in public order protection during mass activities. To make responsible the policemen who refuse to stop the infringement of the law they witness.

5). To adopt the Law of Ukraine “On Patients Rights” that would provide legal guarantees of observance patients’ right to life.

6).To carry out reforms in the field of public healthcare in order to prevent increase of children and babies mortality rates.

7). Sign and ratify International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance adopted on December 20, 2006 (Resolution of the General Assembly of the UN A/RES/61/177).


[1] Prepared by Mykhailo Tarakhkalo, attorney for Kharkiv Human Rights Group.

[2] Police with people: four deaths and one in a hospital/; After communication with the police a man hanged himself. Ministry of Internal Affairs claims there were no tortures;

[3] Karpachova called students death in the police station a murder.

[4] In Kyiv in the district police station 25 year old men hanged himself(

[5] Human rights activists: the amount of deaths of the detained by the police has doubled. the end of December the amount of lethal cases in the MIA institutions, information of those had become public, reached the amount of 50.

[6] INFORMATION / On the condition of legalism in the state for 2009 (according to the article 2, Law of Ukraine “On Prosecutor’s Office” (

[7] Armed detachments of the police are sent to disperse peaceful manifestation in Kharkiv

[8] Police is interested in the attack on buses of Shakhtar football club in Kharkiv (; in Kharkiv fans buses of Shakhtar fans are damaged. Law enforcement behaved in a strange way. (

[9] The condition of the healthcare in Ukraine requires immediate improvement. If in the nearest future there is no state attention paid to the healthcare, than bad consequences will happen.(; Ukrainian healthcare. Is there a prospect to see a light in the end of tunnel? (

[10] «Dostors killed her with their negligence”

[11] INFORMATION/Ontheconditionoflegalisminthestatefor2009(according to the article 2, law of Ukraine “On Prosecutor’s Office” )

[12] Condition and structure of crime in Ukraine (2008 - 2009 )

[13] Condition and structure of crime in Ukraine (2010 - I half  year)

[14] INFORMATION/Ontheconditionoflegalisminthestatefor2009(according to the article 2, law of Ukraine “On Prosecutor’s Office”)

[15] Gongadze v. Ukraine, no. 34056/02 (Sect. 2), ECHR 2005-XI – (8.11.05); Muravskaya v. Ukraine, no. 249/03 (Sect. 5) (Eng) – (13.11.08).

[16] INFORMATION/Ontheconditionoflegalisminthestatefor2009(according to the article 2, law of Ukraine “On Prosecutor’s Office” )

[17] HowcopsdispersedmothersrallyinMykolaiv inMykolaivthepolicedispersedprotestrallynearregionaldirectionofinternalaffairs



[20] NearKyivamanwasdetainedbythepoliceand disappeared

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