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.

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Another chilling abduction by Kremlin-backed Luhansk militants

Halya Coynash
News has emerged of another woman abducted in the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ [‘LPR’] , and probably now held by its sinister ‘ministry of state security’.  The information cannot be verified, but the official denials have been heard too many times before to have any credibility, whereas those reporting such enforced disappearances are taking a risk in doing so. 

News has emerged of another woman abducted in the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ [‘LPR’] , and probably now held by its sinister ‘ministry of state security’.  The information cannot be verified, but the official denials have been heard too many times before to have any credibility, whereas those reporting such enforced disappearances are taking a risk in doing so. 

A message on the VKontakte ‘Blacklist’ page asserts that “people disappear in LPR without any information” and that it’s useless turning to the police”.    

It is four months, the post reads, since Yulia Viktorovna Polshchykova from Rovenki disappeared.  Neighbours say that she was taken away by two men in training gear who said that they were from the so-called ‘LPR ministry of state security’.  Judging by the name under the photo, and the general style of the post, it seems likely that it was written by Nastena Polshchykova, who may be the missing woman’s daughter.  This makes the situation even more ominous as the name under the photo now leads to a VKontakte message saying that the page sought has been deleted

The so-called ‘ministry’ say only that they’re not obliged to provide any information, and the police - that they had no grounds to detain her.  S/he knows from unofficial sources, however, that Polshchykova is being held by the so-called ‘ministry of state security’. 

The only other information is a newspaper report from 7 September 2017, saying that the police are establishing the whereabouts of the 38-year-old woman who left her home on September 5 at 13.00. 

How many people actually are abducted in the territory under the control of LPR militants is not known, but reports coming out suggest the number is high.

As reported , in October 2017 the body of one of four taxi drivers to have disappeared over the last year was discovered, ten months after his family reported his disappearance.  Serhiy Dmitrenko was just 25 years old and worked for a taxi company in Luhansk. 

22-year-old Mykola Petukhov was seized by armed LPR militants in the early morning of August 31, 2017.  Mykola’s mother reports that a young man, identified only as Oleksiy, was seized just a week earlier, and his body found a few days later,  Both of them made a living by helping people with luggage as they cross from LPR into government-controlled territory or vice versa. 

Petukhov is understood to have crossed from government-controlled territory through the checkpoint near Stanytsya Luhanska at around 6 a.m. on August 31.  Witnesses say that he was surrounded by armed men who asked him something, and then took him away.    

Ludmila Surzhenko, a 39-year-old woman with pro-Ukrainian views and severe hearing impairment, was detained at the militants’ checkpoint on July 13 as she returned from a trip to Stanytsya Luhanska for humanitarian aid.  Witnesses reported then that the militants had forced her to take everything out of her bags, and they had seized her phone, and then taken her away. 

Thankfully, she was finally released three weeks later, but with scars from the torture methods the militants had used. Her finger was badly swollen after the militants applied pliers for several days and held her in handcuffs trying to force her to ‘confess’ to spying or acts of sabotage for the Ukrainian Security Service [SBU]. 

Roman Sahaidak is a 30-year-old entrepreneur from Krasnodon who was stopped on June 30 by armed men in military gear who forced him into their car. 

The following day, men saying that they were ‘from the ‘LPR ministry of state security’ appeared at his flat and carried out a search, taking away everything that could be removed.  The same thing happened at the home of his parents.

The family in general have tried to keep silent out of fear that their son could face retaliation, however Roman’s sister, Anna Slastnikova has on the contrary turned to the media, believing that publicity can help him.  It was only after KHPG and then the media reported his abduction that the militants allowed him to see his parents.  Details of her account can be found here.

Given the general lack of information and the alarming reports of ‘sentences’ of 12 or even 20 years passed on supposed ‘spies’, it is worth noting that Sahaidak’s family had enormous difficulty finding a lawyer.  As soon as the latter learn that the case involves a person held by ‘LPR ‘ministry of state security’, they refuse to have anything to do with it. 

Halyna Hayeva, a nurse seized by the ‘Donetsk people’s republic ministry of state security’ and held for 13 months before being released as part of the 27 December exchange, asserts that ‘lawyers’ must go to Russian Rostov to report on any cases assigned them by the so-called ‘ministry’.  She learned also, during the long months in ‘DPR’ captivity, that there is a Russian overseeing all ‘cases’ dealt with by the ‘ministry of state security investigators’. 

Often the only information about an abducted person comes from the militant websites which report that the person was sentenced to 10 years or longer for ‘spying’. Among those civilian hostages recently released was blogger Edward Nedelyaev, whose truthful blogs about life in the so-called ‘republic’ got him a 14-year sentence; Vlad Ovcharenko and Akhtem Akhmerov, sentenced to 17 and 13 years respectively for a Ukrainian flag and a flashmob burning the ‘LPR’ flag.  All and others were sentenced for supposed ‘spying’. 


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