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.

Moving letter from Russia’s Oldest Ukrainian Hostage

Halya Coynash

Yury Soloshenko, the 73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner, sentenced to 6 years maximum security prison on absurd ‘spying’ charges, has written a heartfelt letter of thanks to one of the people who has written to him.  In it, he expresses longing for his Ukrainian homeland, his love of every blade of grass, every leaf, and his horror at a Russian justice system which is lavish with long prison sentences, with many, like him, totally innocent. 

Yury Danilovych begins with a quote by the Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna:

To live – I’ll tear apart all shackles,  I reassert and validate myself ,  Because I’m alive.

Dear Yana,

Today is the happiest day of the entire year and a half of my imprisonment, if it’s possible at all to feel happiness. I have not wept once while here, yet when I read your letters, tears came to my eyes.  Thank you so much for your words of support! It feels very nice to realize that there are so many people who are not indifferent.  I have received letters from people I don’t know, from Ukraine, from Moscow, Russia, Canada.  I answered them all.  As far as I’m able in this situation, I follow the fate of my compatriots and admire their courage.  I totally agree with you, in captivity I have met many decent people.  I am horrified by the Russian justice system that is so free with sentences of 10 years and more.  And that’s with such life expectancy!

Throughout the entire investigation, I never believed it would end this way.  I was never an enemy of Russia and what they are accusing me of I knew 10 years ago, when the equipment was still being designed, since that was my work which I loved and which I’m proud of.

Here I have felt more intensely how much I love Ukraine, my family and my beloved grandchildren.  Though how can one love more or less?  It’s possible only to love tenderly, loyally, faithfully and absolutely! There are simply no words for how I miss my homeland.  I love every leaf on a bush in the meadow, every blade of grass, every insect crawling along Ukrainian soil.  Even if it stings me, at least not too painfully.

Thank you, Yana for such a noble, important and much-needed mission. 

If you receive this letter, I will write more.

With sincere respect, Yury Soloshenko

(Your human rights colleagues are visiting me, Yours, …  Feb 2016 )


Many Ukrainians have experienced the brutality and lawlessness of Russia’s ‘justice system’ over the last 2 years.  Younger men have been subjected to hideous torture in order to force ‘confessions’ used to override any proof of innocence.   Yury Soloshenko is 73 and has a heart condition, so the methods used had to be different.  It is no accident, however, that human rights activist Zoya Svetova wrote in April 2015 that in all her years of visiting remand prisoners, she had never seen such flagrant violation of Russia’s Constitution as in the case of Yury Soloshenko.  He and his family had asked well-known human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov to represent him.  Pavlov was quite simply, and illegally, prevented from seeing Soloshenko while the latter was put under immense pressure to accept a ‘lawyer’ provided by the investigators.

Soloshenko is the retired director of the long-bankrupt Poltava-based Znamya factory which once specialized in high-frequency electro vacuum lamps used in anti-aircraft warfare.  The factory had always depended for its survival on orders from Russia, meaning that there was nothing secret between the two countries, with it all a single system.  

The FSB Press Service claimed  that Soloshenko had been arrested by the FSB in August 2014 in Moscow “when trying to illegally purchase secret components for S-300 surface to air missile systems. He was acting on behalf of the State enterprise “Generator Factory” and the “Skies of Ukraine” Corporation, and the items which were to be bought were intended for reinstating Ukraine’s air defence system”. 

Soloshenko’s son Vladislav earlier called the charges insane nonsense  He believes that his father who has long been retired was simply tricked into coming to Moscow.  A former colleague insisted on him coming for a business meeting connected with buying and selling equipment.  When he arrived on Aug 5, 2014, and went to the place arranged, he was immediately seized by FSB officers.

After months when the lawyer of his choice was not allowed to see him, Soloshenko agreed to a state-provided lawyer.  It seems clear that this lawyer, Gennady Blokhin encouraged him to ‘confess’, promising that he would be returned to Ukraine.

At a closed trial on Oct 14, the 73-year-old with no access to state secrets or Russian weapons, but also with no access to a proper lawyer, ‘confessed’ to the bizarre spying charges and was sentenced to 6 years maximum security prison.  The prosecution had asked for much more, but the judge need not be suspected of showing humanity.  The shorter sentence was doubtless because Soloshenko will be 80 in 6 years. 

Blokhin continued to talk about how Soloshenko would be extradited after the court trial, probably to ensure that Soloshenko did not appeal against the conviction.  Soloshenko was taken from Moscow to a maximum security prison on December 10, 2015 – International Human Rights Day. 


It’s very easy via the civic initiative RozUznik which helps get letters to Russian-held political prisoners.  If you send your letter – on the screen or as an attachment – to  post.rozuznik[at], , they will deal with writing the envelope and sending it on.  Just cut and paste the name

Солошенко Юрию Даниловичу

It is best to write in Russia.  If that is a problem, even the following would be fine.

Добрый день,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение.

Мы о Вас помним.   Держитесь!

Hello, I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  You are not forgotten.  [The last word is like ‘hang in there’)

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