war crimes in Ukraine

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Thug leader finally jailed for his role in the savage killing of Maidan journalist

Halya Coynash
Yuri Krysin has received a five-year prison sentence for his role in the fatal attack on Vesti journalist Vyacheslav Veremiy during Euromaidan. The Kyiv Court of Appeal on 13 June overturned the original four-year suspended sentence that had elicited outrage both in Ukraine and abroad. . 

Yuri Krysin has received a five-year prison sentence for his role in the fatal attack on Vesti journalist Vyacheslav Veremiy during Euromaidan after the Kyiv Court of Appeal overturned the original four-year suspended sentence that had elicited outrage both in Ukraine and abroad. 

According to Viktoria Deineka, the lawyer representing Veremiy’s mother, she had asked for a seven-year sentence, the maximum under the article of the criminal code which Krysin had been charged under (‘hooliganism’).  The prosecutor demanded six years, as he had back in December 2017 before the sentence passed by Oleh Linnyk, then a judge of the Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv. 

The court on 13 June noted that there had been nothing, even during the appeal hearing, to suggest that Krysin repented of his actions, nor was there any evidence that Krysin had tried to prevent Veremiy’s death from his injuries.  This, Deineka explained, was cited as one of the grounds for the appeal, as well as the fact that the first court had ignored the gravity of the crime for which a suspended sentence was insufficient. 

Krysin’s lawyer, Tetyana Hnyatyuk has said that they will be appealing against the sentence.

Linnyk’s suspended sentence on 22 December 2017 was dramatically different from that demanded by the prosecutor.  Both Krysin’s alleged repentance and his two underage children were given as mitigating circumstances, while the sentence also claimed that Krysin did not have a criminal record, which was entirely untrue.  He has been twice convicted of hooliganism and causing bodily injury and judge Linnyk also saw fit to ignore his current criminal record for illegal possession of ammunition. 

While Krysin did not fire the shot which killed Veremiy, he was the head of the ‘titushki’ or hired thugs who dragged Veremiy from a taxi and began beating him, with the ferocity of the attack clearly seen here

Krysin had admitted to his part in the events, denying only that he killed the journalist.  The court established that on February 17, 2014, Krysin agreed to payment of 20 thousand USD for collecting a gang of titushki to attack Euromaidan activists. 

At around 21.00 on 18 February, they used a grenade to stop the taxi in which Veremiy was a passenger, dragged him out of the car and beat him with baseball bats.  It is believed that it was one of the other titushki, Dzhalal Aliev (also known as Dima Dagestanets, and now in hiding) who fired the fatal shot when Veremiy tried to flee.  The 31-year-old Vesti journalist who was married with a small son died shortly afterwards in hospital.

The Krysin trial, and specifically the way in which the charges became so diluted, was given particular attention in the last Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Report on Ukraine.  They noted with concern “what appears to be special treatment afforded to the ‘titushky, resulting in denial of justice to victims of their crimes”.   

The details the OHCHR only briefly mentions are certainly damning.  44-year-old Krysin is believed to have been part of a criminal gang with links to Yuri Ivanyushchenko, the close associate of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who is suspected of having played a major role in providing the gangs of titushky who committed numerous crimes against Maidan activists.

Krysin was arrested in remanded in custody on March 29, 2014 over the Veremiy killing charges, however was released into house arrest by a Prosecutor General’s Office investigator Yevhen Kotets after Krysin, his wife and lawyer claimed that he was in danger of being killed in SIZO [the remand prison].  The ‘threats’ and elaborate extortion allegations were supposed to form the subject of a criminal investigation, however the lawyer representing Veremiy’s family constantly ran up against a brick wall when he asked for details about the ‘investigation’, and by December that year it transpired that none had been initiated.   

The alleged threats were also used as an excuse to hold the court trial over Veremiy’s murder behind closed doors.  That in turn made it easier to conceal certain other worrying developments.  The most dramatic of these was the quiet disappearance of the murder charges in June 2014, with Prosecutor General’s Office [PGO] prosecutor Yevhen Krasnozhon instead initiating new proceedings in which Krysin was charged only with ‘hooliganism’. 

In August 2014,  Krasnozhon supported Krysin’s lawyer’s application to the court to have his house arrest withdrawn. This was supposedly because Krysin had admitted guilt, had good character references and a pregnant wife and son.  At a closed court hearing on Oct 14, 2014 judge Oleh Linnyk allowed the application and released Krysin on only a signed undertaking not to abscond.

Despite public outrage, Krysin remained at liberty until his next arrest on extortion charges in May 2015.  Although he had been under a restraint order on serious criminal charges when he committed the new offences, on March 17, 2016, he was convicted of possession of ammunition and given a suspended sentence. 

Although the promised criminal investigation into the alleged threats used to justify Krysin’s release from custody had never eventuated, he seems to have been under police protection when he committed his next violent crime in August 2016.

In ordinary cases, such a formidable crime record during the trial would have led to Krysin being taken back into custody, or would at least have been viewed as aggravating circumstances when passing sentence. Instead Linnyk passed a suspended sentence.

On 29 March, 2018 Krysin was remanded in custody on different charges which could carry a 10-year sentence.

He and Serhiy Chernes are facing charges over four episodes.  Krysin is accused of abetting and encouraging people to abduct and torture a person on 21-22 January 2014;  of hurling explosive devices at Maidan activists’ barricades on 18 February 2014 (several hours before the killing of Veremiy); of obstructing the protests through the use of indiscriminate violence.  The fourth charge mainly concerns Chemes who is accused of having, on Krysin’s instructions, forced Veremiy to the ground and held him there until the other titushki ran up. 

Linnyk resigned on 25 May, in order to pre-empt a hearing by the High Council of Justice into a motion for his dismissal.

Maria Tomak, Head of the Media Initiative for Human Rights and one of the journalists who has probed deepest into Krysin’s past and his connections, once commented that Krysin has a magic effect on judges.  He has only to turn up and they’re ready to release him. That appears to have changed, though time will turn.

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